Sometimes a band comes along that doesn’t pave any new ground, but rather reinforces why something already works. That’s what Is Tropical has done with their debut album Native To. The album doesn’t teach you anything you don’t already know but reminds you that what you do know is brilliant. The London group is able to create an atmosphere of groove and immediately enhance the mood of the listener.
“South Pacific” opens the album with a synch frenzy that dares the listener not to dance. A song that could easily be remixed 1,000 ways to Sunday, it is the proper announcement of what’s to come. “Land of Nod” catches the listener completely off guard with its repetitious tones at the start before thrusting them into a John Hughes-inspired state of mind. It is easy to visualize Duckie himself dancing to this one as he rolls into the prom. “Lies” sounds like something that could have easily come from their English counterparts The Whip. The repetitive drumbeat gives it the feeling of disorder while maintaining a consistency that doesn’t drive away the listener.
“The Greeks” is the clear single from the album. “You only get what you give away, you’ll only get it if you give it away” — not the densest lyrics around, but the song is able to entertain regardless with its powerful guitar riffs that drive the song towards its peak. “What???” takes about 1:25 to get where it needs to go, but once it gets there the listeners will find themselves pleased with the results. As with much of the album, the lyrics aren’t what are alluring about the album, but instead the familiarity one finds in the sounds and the feeling it gives them.
“Clouds” is one of the highlights of the album. From the word go, it is a catchy dance-ready track that is fun to listen to. “I’ll Take My Chances” shifts the momentum of the album a bit. More classically rock in its nature, it seems to have come from a different place than the other songs that precede it on the album. “Oranges” follows the template set by “I’ll Take My Chances.” It seems almost as though the songs were written in different sessions. The track is much more guitar oriented and feels almost carnival like.
“Berlin” seems to be the ballad of the album. A lofty track that bleeds with optimism, it is one of the few tracks that feature the lyrics. The echoing of the vocals creates an almost spiritual atmosphere. “Think We’re Alone” was influenced by Daft Punk. It is very catchy and likeable. The fact that it is so recognizable may be why; that is up to the listener to decide.
“Zombies” and “Seasick Mutiny” close the album on a prog rock note. Out of some sort of rock opera, they leave the listener curious as to what’s next for the band. Is Tropical seems to take several directions on this album. What makes it good is their ability to build on what has already been done. What direction they decide to go next will determine if they are a flash in the pan or a band to put on notice.