The debut album from Lost Animal aka Jarrod Quarrell, was released back in 2011 down in Australia/New Zealand, now the Hardly Art label brings the USA Ex Tropical. It was well worth waiting for this delivery, as the sound-scapes and artistry encapsulated on this release are solid.
Ex Tropical is mediation on the two years Quarrell spent as a child in Papa New Guinea, and while there is a noticeable sense of mystery, there is also a palpable honesty that shines through. “(Intro) The Beat Goes On” takes its odd skittering titled beats, pairing them with a lush saxophone and poetic vocals from Quarrell, a reoccurring facet that raises the whole effort up brilliantly.
Too often on dream/electro/pop releases the vocals are regulated to just another sound the artist uses in their overall scope, not Quarrell who wants his lyrics to be heard, mulled over and dissected. They will inspire multiple listens as the word play is effective, perhaps his vocal style and phrasing will not be for everyone but his effort and craft are instantly noticeable.
Musical influences seem just as diverse with vibes and shimmering waves of sound on “Buai Raskol”. Electro grooves are pushed on “Don’t Litter” and “Cold Cut Nature” while “Greylands” runs the full spectrum with its solid bass line and gnat-like buzzing electric guitar. “Lose The Baby” pairs the flippant drum machine (real drums would certainly be a future improvement) with some deep piano all behind tales of passionate tongue sharpening.
The disk closing “Sundown” is the only odd wordy experiment that doesn’t do much but it is a lone misstep. “Old Lovers” more then makes amends; a sweet sounding look ahead for the singer as he gains some help from breathy background vocalists, chimes and warbling synths.
Lost Animal has connected with something here, much in the same way the Christopher Owens was able to touch a nerve when Girls first arrived. There may even be a digital age Leonard Cohen mixed in there as Quarrell has crafted a swirling first release that keeps rewarding.