Dusted Reviews

Lost Animal - Ex Tropical

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Lost Animal

Album: Ex Tropical

Label: Hardly Art

Review date: Jan. 24, 2013

Can someone tell me why America has yet to produce a truly great Royal Trux imitation when they seem to be running around Australia like feral cats? Before setting off on his own as Lost Animal, Jarrod Quarrell fronted one of said groups -- Melbourne’s St. Helens, a rough-around-the-edges rock ensemble drawing from the seedy shamble of the Glimmer Twins, Gallon Drunk, and RTX. Quarrell disbanded the group just as their popularity seemed to be cresting.

In this case, the loss of a formidable RTX surrogate has produced something even more worthy of inspection. Shedding the traditional group formation seems to have blasted open Quarrell’s creative spectrum. Where once the view was filtered through a myopic lens, we now begin to see a broader horizon spreading out before us. Quarrell’s worldview hasn’t so much changed -- the matters at hand remain dark and bespattered in wanton desire and urges. However, his canvas for arranging these greyscale concerns has widened to allow for increasingly more complex and sophisticated treatments, setting-up a support system that at turns buttresses and clashes with his lyrical themes of emotional savagery and spiritual abandonment.

Sounding like a good time yet? Before you go back to scrutinizing "Who Wore It Best?," hear me out -- because despite the grainy veneer they hide behind, these songs go down surprisingly easy. Underneath the artifice, Quarrell is a savvy singer and lyricist, and he knows how to get the most out of a word, be it in tone, or just having the knack for assembling words in an appealing sibilance, drawing them out to sound cooler than they should. He understands how to extract maximum impact from his sneering delivery, mining the hidden potential of his words to get the right feeling out of them.

As capable of a scene-setter as Quarrell is, it’s the musical infrastructure that establishes the unique tone of Ex Tropical, constructing an outpost somewhere a few miles out from the last known jungle bar. The mostly programmed tracks reach beyond the utilitarianism of bedroom production, pulling everything from trunk-rattling synth-funk to reggae-calypso into their orbit. There are moments that recall Keith Hudson’s hallucinatory, brooding masterpiece Flesh Of My Skin, Blood Of My Blood, putting you right in that headspace of floating down the Amazon at night, filing your nails with a machete. Then dawn breaks and we’re pulling the skiff into Compass Point for Bamboo Duppys on the beach before a quick disco-funk session with Marianne Faithfull circa Broken English.

This is a record of a rare stripe -- one that manages to pull a lot of disparate ideas and influences together to inhabit a unified world all its own. Now somebody please get on the Royal Trux thing (U.S. edition).

By Jon Treneff

Read More

View all articles by Jon Treneff

Find out more about Hardly Art

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.