Ink Review – The Belfast duo have genuine individuality
The Belfast Dark Tropics duo (Rio McGuinness and Gerard Sands) have all the right inspirations, musical (from Radiohead and The Velvet Underground to Aretha Franklin and now Leonard Cohen) and literary (from Paul Auster to William Somerset Maugham). But what’s most impressive about their debut album is how these influences, and more, effortlessly blend into something you don’t hear a lot these days: true individuality.
While their separate background doesn’t give much clue as to what their combined work looks like (they met via an online ad from Rio seeking to sing in a jazz band), the result of about two years of collaboration not only presents an intriguing slant on pop music but also insightful.
Despite the somewhat classical influences, there is a distinct contemporary thread running through most of the songs – a bit of London grammar here (I Remember), Lana Del Rey there (The Drug) and Lorde there (Escape) .
The dynamic between the two musicians is such that one wonders who decides, but between the jigs and the reels (not literally, in this case), we think there is an equal exchange here.
The key track, perhaps, is the closest, Helen’s Bay, which mixes anxious lyrics (âfear is to love youâ) and contemplative electro-pop assisted by strings. It might suggest Portishead, but like everything here, it whispers Dark Tropics.