Tora’s ‘A Force Majeure’ Is A Balm In A Chaotic World
The Byron Bay band's arresting new album is their best yet.
Byron Bay’s Tora have always been ones to gaze inwards.
Their albums — 2017’s Take A Rest and 2019’s quietly stunning Can’t Buy The Mood — were arresting meditations on being a human in the age of tech and social media. Alienation, connection, digital addiction, finding humanity in a cold world of laptop screens, remain chief among the band’s interests on their new album A Force Majeure. And given it took shape in the time of COVID, it’s also all about finding respite.
“For us, amongst all of the chaos going on globally, this album really brought us a sense of relief,” said frontman Jo Loewenthal about the album. “That’s what we want to share with the world. Come back to the self and work on the self so that you can project outward positively: that’s the message. Personal growth, growing yourself so you can help others. Don’t just take, give. Giving is the same as taking; when you give, someone else is taking. That ultimately comes back around.”
We asked Loewenthal to walk us through each track of the album — dive in.
‘In Deeper’ is about a paradigm shift. The concept of constriction leading to expansion, a societal cocoon blooming into a butterfly, free from old inefficiencies, reinvigorated with a new energy and purpose, the realization that through pain comes growth and with growth comes understanding. The intention of this song was to start a new conversation that could inspire unity, end division and remind each other that together we are limitless, but divided we are finite.
This song was started late 2019 and completed during the middle of the 2020 pandemic, so writing it gave us some sense of relief through hard times.
‘Why Won’t You Wait’
I spent much of the last five years in a long-distance relationship, the times together were intense, beautiful and enriching, whilst the space apart was motivational and filled with inspiration from lingering memories.
This was one of the first songs that was chosen to be on the album, I started writing it back in early 2019 at a time when I was feeling insecure at a distance, questioning my position in the heart of another, wondering if I would ever return to the same girl I left or if our time apart would change us beyond recognition.
‘Call On Me’
‘Call On Me’ is a study of fictional characters pursuing each other whilst trapped within a town or place that feels hostile. The looping of days becoming nights with little to break the monotony, still not able to connect despite the time to do so. The chorus is the release of this feeling, exploring the dichotomy between feeling trapped in a mood or place and then having your location or freedom liberate you. New places, people and landscapes providing perspective to a cloudy mind.
This song is about being absolutely infatuated by somebody, whilst simultaneously being afraid that they are stringing you along, leading you to believe a false reality, it’s about being afraid to fully trust somebody because they make you feel so good that you fear how much power they wield over you.
This was one of the last additions to the album, in the late stages of recording the album we discovered this idea which came together really fast and had this different energy so we felt compelled to include it.
‘Fire Apartment’ is a metaphor, an apartment on fire with all the alarms disarmed, this represents the decay of a relationship as it burns down with those inside unaware of the destruction being caused around them.
I wrote this song with Angie at the end of 2018 during Australia summer, we started making it in my home studio at the time and revisited the idea together as a band in Amsterdam 2020 where we added the finishing touches.
‘Put Down Your Phone’
The meaning is quite obvious as it’s the song title, but this song focuses on the issue of tech addiction and how it is impacting us all on an exponentially destructive trajectory.
Over time it’s becoming more acceptable to prioritize the people on your phone above those around you in real life, this realisation hit me hard when I noticed that my ex and I would more often sit on the couch scrolling instead of being present with each other. I wanted to use this creative expression as a reality snap and a reminder to never forget what’s most important for our wellbeing, here and now.
I started writing the song as a joke that I would sing to people when they ignored me for their phones, eventually it turned into something serious and made its way into the studio during our recording sessions, before long the whole band had contributed to the track and we decided it felt right for the Tora album.
At each stage of our live we witness the death of our old selves and the birth of our new self, some people accept these changes and others reject them, but if you find someone who can help you through each stage and love unconditionally, nurture it and let it grow.
‘New Age’ is about accepting the differences you have with someone and appreciating the fact that you are at different phases of your life but still growing together and supporting each other.
‘When Will I Learn’
‘When Will I Learn’ is about the harsh realities that we all have to face at times in our lives, it’s about going inwards and engaging in self-reflection, which becomes the catalyst for rapid growth and expansion, and how sometimes you just need to face problems head on to solve them.
Much of the song holds dark harmonic undertones laced with melancholic but calm dynamics, until the heavily contrasting bridge where destruction occurs to make room for the next stage in evolution, when balance is restored.
‘How Long’ is a nostalgic reflection on how as time passes things evolve, seasons change, people grow and life serendipitously unfolds.
We wrote it with our friends Molly and Wil in 2020 via distance as they were unable to travel across from UK during the lockdown. When they first sent us the original verse idea we immediately felt inspired to work on it, so we jumped in the studio together as a band and within a few days the song was already fully formed. We discovered Molly through a covers competition we ran on Instagram in which we promised the winner a chance to collaborate with us, which plays into the meaning of the so and how things sometimes just happen very naturally and serendipitously.
‘A Force Majeure’
‘A Force Majeure’ is about letting go and succumbing to the greater forces at play, accepting what comes and not trying to control everything in life. With this being the title track, this message is also the underlying theme for the album as a whole and a lesson that was learned by many during the pandemic, we felt it was an appropriate feeling to share with the world during a time of drastic change.
Hearing the first layer of the composition, I felt myself naturally pulled back into my recent processing of grief and loss. The somewhat unfairness but ultimate acceptance of death.
I felt beautifully challenged in the writing process. It was a natural feeling, but to explore loss in this way was confronting and left me often on the brink of tears. Towards its completion the song began to pacify the hazy, recurring nightmares I was experiencing about my late friend and a constant wonder why they chose to leave…
Their time was short and their life was painful. Yet I now find solace in my relationship with a person that is physically gone as I’m only left to accept they have found an eternal bliss free of all their torment.
Tora’s A Force Majeure is out now.