Since Juan Mendez stepped out of Tropic Of Cancer, leaving it as Camella Lobo’s solo project, the ruggedness of their early records has evolved into something more elegant. Remnants of the LA outfit’s first incarnation remain—the post-punk pulse, the macabre atmosphere—but their sound has been anesthetised, refined, and coloured by her vocals. As if to reinforce Mendez’s distance from the project, Karl O’Connor was drafted in for additional production duties.The album’s sleeve, stylish and sinister, shows a woman’s hand reaching for a chandelier like someone desperately clutching for a phone to dial 911.
It's somewhat ironic that Camella Lobo's Tropic of Cancer project is named after Henry Miller's most famous novel. It's usually only remembered for its - for the time - highly provocative 'pornographic' content, and famous ensuing obscenity trials. Those that bother to read it will find a book that drips passion and a lust for life from every page as it details his sordid existence of poverty, sex and debauchery while struggling to be an artist in 1930s Paris.
The press release for Tropic of Cancer’s debut album proper, Restless Idylls, opens with a few lines from British confessional poet Stevie Smith. “I do not ask for mercy, for understanding, for peace,” it reads. “And in these heavy days I do not ask for release / I do not ask that suffering shall cease.” In isolation this might seem like an expression of stoicism.