Psychobilly trio Tiger Army have resurfaced with their sixth studio album, ‘Retrofuture’. Following the prior release of ‘V •••–’ in 2016, the Californians have allowed their rugged passion for a retro society to run wild in this thirteen-track effort, hence the appropriate title.
Running soon after instrumental introduction, ‘Prelude: Tercio De Muerte’, is a wavering medley of rockabilly riffs and quivering vocals, titled ‘Beyond The Veil’. This track clutches you by the newly-loosened collar and drags you into a fifties-style gathering: bumbling teenagers, dresses that widen greatly just below the knee, and polished cherry guitars occupy all available space.
Frontman Nick 13 blows the dust from the archetypal love song trope and runs a palm of gloss across it, gifting us with ‘Valentina’. You can almost picture the hazy-eyed frontman performing to a woman in the audience, her hair tucked neatly into a bun, polka-dot dress pluming from her waist. The choral melodies are sickly sweet. This, however, doesn’t last long.
A harsh dig of heels in the sand, ‘The Devil That You Don’t Know’ comes to be in the clouds of cigar smoke in an underground American bar. Bordering in political territory, this track rolls up the sleeves on its cropped leather jacket and gets in a few sucker punches in retaliation to the arguably soft introduction to ‘Retrofuture’.
Nick 13 soon bandages his knuckles and slides into tight jeans, slicking his hair back tightly and kicking around as ‘Death Card’ rolls in – an anthemic track that reflects neon lights and the cold, thick air of a Nevada night. He knows the drill; Nick 13 has been the only ongoing member of Tiger Army since their formation in 1996, and has since paralleled the band’s career with his own solo endeavours.
The neon sign that once blazed unapologetically as ‘Retrofuture’ bustled into existence begins to flicker and buzz monotonously as the album plays out. With exceptions such as ‘Mi Amor La Luna’, the coffee-stained, retro-filtered aesthetic of this album begins to fall flat as the tracks seemingly mesh together with little distinguishability.
The instrumental features give the release a swaying attraction, but with such a niche, vintage style, the concluding songs are undeniably similar. This, however, is not inherently negative. Tiger Army are doing something right, considering their expansive discography, and ‘Retrofuture’ is the perfect release to satisfy their existing audience.