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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

8.7

The Fighting League
Tropical Paradise

Dominic Death, unofficial leader of The Fighting League, has an overpoweringly confident demeanor. He doesn't need you to "feel him". He's feeling himself enough already. Hands down his Kmart mom jeans, getting more fiddly than a ADHD spazzy 4-year-old on a Ritalin detox. All over that junk like Phil "Chilli" Jameson on a fresh bottle of Ice Magic. Maybe he's just stoned. Or maybe tropical punk juice runs through his veins like the smooth tide of Lake Burley Griffin. Whatever. It's a transfixing obsession, occupying a large chunk of his stage time. And a equally large percentage of attention from the crowd. In fact, Double D's hands only come out of his Front Love Zone when; a) the show's over; b) his nipples need another mild tweaking; or; c) he needs to fix up his army haircut (ie. spit on his hands and run them sexually down the quarter centimetre trimmed sides).

As you can (maybe) gather from that sloppily constructed opening paragraph, The Fighting League live experience is the kind of punk rock adventure you'll boastfully tell your Ritalin-pumped grand kiddys you were part of. Much like your sex life, it's chaotic, messy and occasionally homo erotic. And, similar still, at the centre of it all there's the unmistakable image of Dom Deathly, parading around like a Canberra yobbo looking for a face to kick in or a can of Tooheys New to hastily consume. Yeah, the shoe fits, and it's the same shoe that's stomping the ground in time with the passionately-soaked lines, delivered as if every one could be the last and the entire event is only minutes away from being shut down.

And yet there's always been an unshakeable feeling that, as great as The Fighting League are as a live band, they would never be able to successfully translate that same fist-pumping, vagina bumping energy to compact disc, vinyl, FLAC or any other tangible format.

Wrong.

This record flexes. It punches the sky in victory. And, moments later, it has it's arm around you, comforting your concerns with genuine sympathy and drunkenly confessing it's own shortcomings and uncertainties. It's your loud-mouthed, brutally honest, two-drinks-ahead acquaintance. It's a total cunt, ridiculously stupid and unapologetic. It's your dumb mate from high school who has only gotten dumber. And drunker. Yet he still surprises you every year with a heartfelt text message on the morning of your birthday.

Tropical Paradise was recorded straight to tape (ie. no overdubs) with Bruce Callaway from The Saints at the helm. There's two answers right there for your silly question "why the fuck does this sound so alive?". And that's the record's winning edge. It's right there. Inches from your face, so close you're copping a fair few litres of saliva spray on the more aggressively punctuated lines. It sounds like it could burst out of your headphones at any minute and put a size 9 right up in your baby making crane. And yet, one of the more surprising elements about the album is that it's not all about confrontation. In fact, the standout moments — the wailing, (twisted) love anthem, 19, and the reflective teenage ode Guys You Want To Be — are much more entrenched in an everyman romanticism than just pure head-butting aggression.

Another pleasant surprise is, despite every piece of press ever transcribed about The Fighting League focusing on the fact they're the leaders of the (self-created) "tropical punk" sub-genre, this record is much more of an ode to traditional punk energy than catching a brutally sexy tan down at Canberra Beach. Sure, there's sprinkles of sunshine throughout, but for the most part (aside from the amped-up Vampire Weekend At Gracelands romp, Calypso) the flashes of coconut bongos, morning mojitos and Speedo sand traps are overpowered by visions of skinhead Romper Stomping, sweaty circle pits (nah, not those junkies) and drunken house party band performances that abruptly end when the lead singer decides to jump off the roof into the swimming pool, microphone still in hand, violently electrocuting himself into oblivion.

Tropical Paradise isn't a particularly smart record. It won't firmly lodge itself in the anals of Time as an album that changed the world, sparked a million replicating offspring or elevated The Fighting League into the upper echelons of Australian Rock N Roll infamy. But it's creators aren't selling us that. They're selling us a fun-spiked punch (in the face), a non-GPS assisted adventure into a cum-stained world of 21-year-old revelry, a little bit of sunshine and a metric cuntload of genuine punk attitude. I'm buying it. And I think you should too.

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The Fighting League

 

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