The Planet of Straw Men
Who’s My Eugene?
The Happiest Guy Around
Desert Sands of Venus
Braindrops, the second album by Tropical Fuck Storm—a Melbourne rock band comprising The Drones’ frontman and bassist Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin, High Tension drummer Lauren Hammel, and MOD CON, Harmony, and Palm Springs guitarist Erica Dunn—is, remarkably, more than the sum of its parts. Braindrops is every bit as chaotic, surprising, weird, and varied as 2018’s A Laughing Death in Meatspace, but on round two, they’ve found their feet. The album begins with “Paradise,” a signature Liddiard ballad that wouldn’t be out of place on a Drones album—all woozy, desolate, and pained. But it’s the addition of bass grooves and electronic elements that make this album so interesting, energetic, and, at times, challenging.
Most of the lyrics contain cautionary tales about exploitative mind control, be it via aliens, Russian spies, or social media. “Who’s My Eugene?,” a gentle yet harrowing track sung by Dunn, is about Eugene Landy, the psychotherapist best known for his controversial treatment of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. The cacophonous final track “Maria 63” tells the story of a (fictional) Mossad agent trying to assassinate (the non-fictional) Maria Orsic, an occultist whose claims about alien encounters are rumored to have connections with the Nazi Party’s attempts at space travel—seriously, look it up.