Poison The Well
The Tropic Rot
06 July 2009
by Mike Strata
‘Everything Changes’ – depending on your point of view that’s either simply the title of a throwaway 1994 single from everyone’s favourite evergreen boyband, Take That, or a noble attempt by Gary Barlow to introduce philosophy to 14-year-old girls. Whatever your stance, it’s a mantra that Poison The Well have certainly taken to heart.
Just as caterpillars become butterflies and mink become coats, PTW have continually evolved from release to release. Starting over a decade ago with the Distance… EP, the band has gone through more personnel changes than Real Madrid’s squad and yet end up here in 2009 sounding stronger and fresher than ever on The Tropic Rot.
This is not the band that won everyone’s hearts combining the (then) new-school stylings of bands like Morning Again with something altogether more accessible on their stunning debut album The Opposite Of December. Nor is it the band that took a detour through twanging Americana on the more recent Versions. No, PTW in 2009 is an altogether different beast, more than an amalgam of every PTW that has gone before, this is something new and pretty darned special.
Bursting out of the blocks with ‘Exist Underground’, you’d be forgiven for thinking that not much had changed since 2007. The persistent, driving, mid-tempo lunge is not too dissimilar from what was found on Versions, so far, so what? The fat’s been trimmed, that’s what. Where Versions all too often drifted into self indulgence, the tracks on The Tropic Rot are far more focussed and as a result far more interesting to listen to.
‘Cinema’ flails viciously all over the place before slipping into a grandiose refrain, and ‘Antarctica Inside Me’ is all tension-building rolls and glacial riffs. Sure there’s the odd mis-step into slide guitar country, such as on the languid ‘Pamplemousse’, but taken in the context of the album it doesn’t grate nearly as much as it did on the over-egged pudding that was Versions.
Watch the Tropic Rot Tour Video Blog by Poison The Well
If there’s one criticism that can be levelled at The Tropic Rot, it’s that the vocal melodies perhaps aren’t as strong as they could be, leaving the listener to focus unfortunately on some under-developed lyrics. However, this is a minor flaw and is nowhere near enough to sink what is probably PTW’s strongest album since Tear From The Red.
This is the sound of a group of men who are comfortable with where they’ve been, but more importantly know exactly where they’re headed and aren’t afraid to do whatever it takes to get there. Everything changes indeed, he’s a wise man that Gary Barlow.
Sounds like: Poison The Well – DUH!
Top tracks: Cinema, Antarctica Inside Me, Celebrate The Pyre
Poison The Well – The Tropic Rot tracklisting
Sparks It Will Rain
Who Doesn’t Love a Good Dismemberment?
Antarctica Inside Me
When You Lose I Lose as Well
Celebrate The Pyre
Are You Anywhere?
Makeshift Clay You
Without You and One Other I Am Nothing