Tropical Gypsy is the second record by the sextet Molotov Jukebox, and it’s a raucous whirlwind of fun. Preceding single ‘Pineapple Girl’ kicks things off in a suitably positive style with shuffling percussion and Natalia Tena’s vocals adding emphasis to the infectious tropical atmosphere.
The following duo of tracks ‘Just the Thrill’ and ‘Dancing with the Dead’ betray the promise of fun with a tone which notably more sombre, despite the energetic flourish present in the latter number. This is rectified almost immediately as ‘Halfway There’ accelerates into an impassioned jive of a chorus, announcing itself as a track to sweat to on the dancefloor. ‘If I Cry’ again reduces the pace as the title may suggest, before ‘If I Knew’ shifts the party of the record back up through the gears to maximum energy. This rollercoaster of tempo helps in painting Tena’s overall messages of romance won and lost, whilst emphasising those melancholy “lows” and exotic highs.
’Trail of Crumbs’ and ‘Leave Your Light On’ impart a feeling of longing, and the party atmosphere turns to something more alluring. Tena serenades an unknown lover to the enticing soundtrack of tropical compositions built on the excellent interplay of a traditional set of instrumentation, with the trumpet flourishes adding a particular level of pizazz.
The closing trio of ‘Outside In’, ‘Too Late’ and ‘Gypsy Funeral’ ends on a track which again strikes a tone implied entirely by the title. The finale track extends over an enjoyable six minutes, laced with wondrous changes of pace and attitude, seeming to capture the eclectic nature of Tropical Gypsyas a whole in one miniaturised package.
Despite perhaps being best known for her role in a particular HBO TV show, Tena’s contributions to music here are worth considerably more attention than they appear to be receiving. Whilst the magic of Molotov Jukebox is likely most powerfully imparted in a live setting where dancing and sweat can flow freely, the infectious nature of the music is captured well on record. Tropical Gypsy is a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the band, and a great potential soundtrack for any raucous gathering you’re planning to have.