Insect Heroes - Apocalypso
Brothers' 'tropical pop' sound is winning kaleidoscope of ethereal vocals, modular synths and percussion
Mountains have long been a source of inspiration to songwriters and often those songs are visceral, ambitious and as improbably majestic as the subject matter. This is the case with Insect Heroes’ debut Apocalypso, an album that tries to throw everything into the mix and largely succeeds in pulling it off. Hill-loving brothers George and Evan Thomas (born and raised in the Peak District and now living in Scotland) call their sound ‘tropical pop’.
Recorded to 16-track analogue tape, Apocalypso is a sonic kaleidoscope of ethereal, slightly chilling vocals drifting in a soup of modular synths, banjo, drums and percussion (Robin Ashton, Adam Campbell and Laurie Pitt complete the line-up) that nods politely in a trippy fashion to influences including Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals and Joe Meek. Then there are moments when the tempo changes and the mood turns, such as ‘King Fabulous’, as if early Flaming Lips or T-Rex have just crashed the party. It probably helps that they style themselves as ‘British eccentrics and oddballs’, as there is a delightfully shambolic element to their sound that, to quote from one of the tracks, ‘don’t make no sense at all’.
Fortunately, it’s also an extremely accessible album with big, memorable songs such as ‘Strobe Lights’, with its layered, ominous harmonies playing off George’s slightly manic falsetto vocal. Meanwhile, the gloriously swirling 1960s pop hook of ‘Beautiful World’ builds into an infectious chorus of ‘I’m so happy, I could die’. The stand-out tracks are ‘These Days’ and ‘Wooden Heart’, which sound like 1960s psych-garage pop and best encapsulate the ‘dark core’ that underpins Insect Heroes’ songwriting style. There’s no question that this band can write a great tune and have cultivated an intriguing sound: it’s all just a question of where they go next.