Coasting between ‘70s rock and blue-eyed soul, the Australian five-piece have, since their inception, adhered to a retro mode of travel; weaving a tapestry of psych-pop melodies that find further exposure, and increasing definition, on this kaleidoscopic debut.
Releasing their first single “Tidal Wave” back in 2015, Tempesst have in the intervening period orbited in a limbo-like state, peppering glimpses into their trippy technicolour realm with irregular frequency, flaunting a nostalgia-heavy range harking to the bubblegum repertoire of artists such as Badfinger and The Hollies. Toma and Andy Banjanin figure as lynchpins in this endeavour, springing from the Sunshine Coast’s Noosa region, the brothers have interchangeably hovered between their native Queensland, London and New York since the tail end of the noughties; incorporating experience from globe-trotting travels into their sound in the process. Recently founding their own label as well as recording studio, Must Be A Dream, as such, finds the band aligning to a phase of sonic and structural independence.
Citing Electric Light Orchestra’s polished prog-pop as an influence, Must Be A Dream, in some respects, errs more towards to The Move’s strata of psychedelia. Flashes of Jeff Lynne’s formative pared-down project can be traced through the vapour of “Mushroom Cloud”, while “Age Of The Bored” opts for subtle synth patter and sanguine guitar licks, “High On My Own” taking most of its stylistic cues from late-60s Moody Blues and XTC offshoot The Dukes of Stratosphear. This baroque pop impulse intertwines with experimental embellishments that often resemble a muted iteration of Black Mountain’s revivalist prog-rock, while the turbocharged euphoria reminiscent of Spiritualized also makes its cosmic impact known. Toma’s Bolan-esque vocals carry this with pirouetting grace, notably on “Is This All That There Is?”, which navigates a ruminative outlook on the elusiveness of time.
Despite leaning on the idyllic power pop of yesteryear, Tempesst prove adept in broaching contemporary social turbulence with exactitude. Opener “Better Than The Devil”, for instance, laments the normalisation of modern day snake oil salesmen, sampling notorious Heaven’s Gate leader Marshall Applewhite, lyrics challenging the rhetorical spiel of demagogues: “God, I’m tired of your recited lines / Smooth as silk or a burgundy wine / You stole their hearts and you stole the show / With a hand in my pocket and a bug in my phone”.
Where other acts have expelled eclectic foundations, Tempesst reinforce and, to an extent, temper the peppier whimsicality of earlier material, veering into more abstract terrain on occasion. And while familiar features nudge into play, Must Be A Dream breathes new life into established tropes in a manner that proves endearingly escapist.