Not all debuts are groundbreaking. Some, like British trio Is Tropical‘s Native To, are a pleasant prelude for things to come. Their brand of infectious electronic rock made quite the buzz overseas prior to this stateside debut, thanks in part to Kitsune compilation appearances and opening for a string of European dates with the Klaxons. Native To is an exploration of Is Tropical’s promising capabilities.
This album is meant for the dance floor and the live experience of a mischievous masked trio challenging listeners and spectators not to dance. From the first chaotic moments of bass to the sporadic clash of percussion that backs slick sheens of synth on opener “South Pacific”, it’s hard not to enjoy the ride. Tracks are organized in their energized chaos, carrying just the right amount of energy without becoming overwhelming. “Lies” opens with Friendly Fires-esque synth swirls overcome by the persistent click of drums, spacey effects, and beats thumping with force. Even moments of Klaxons-inspired new rave appear (“What??” and “Zombies”), featuring gritty vocals and agitated guitar riffs.
The spirited spunk of Native To dies down around the halfway mark with “I’ll Take My Chances”. Dosages of guitar reverb hang heavy over a muted melody, an uncharacteristic downer compared to the lively beginning. This one could have easily been left on the cutting room floor, along with four-minute, instrumental closer “Seasick Mutiny”. Though it features the same familiar unruly bass and percussion, it doesn’t leave the lasting imprint this first full-length needed.
Even though Native To is a pleasant introduction, there’s nothing urgent here. Their dance rock, prominent in synth and dance-ready beats, rarely differs from what’s already crowded the dance floor and festival circuit. As a debut, it works, giving listeners an idea of what’s behind the mask, but hopefully the future holds something more.
Essential Tracks: “Lies” and “The Greeks”