During the brief writing period before the recording, Paul turned to his “algorithm,” a compositional tool he developed that converts words and phrases into musical content. Significantly, this provides Paul the opportunity to begin the writing process with a title, an inverse of what has become common practice for instrumental music. In pop songwriter Jimmy Webb’s Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting, he says that when a songwriter says they have an idea for a song, what is really meant is that they have a unique title that can inspire the music and lyrics as well as draw in the listener. To write Glacier Lake, Mental Self Defensive Fitness, and Straight Talk, Paul began with a title or catch-words related to a theme, and used the algorithm-generated material to kick off the compositional process. That the results are so varied speaks to the flexibility of this approach. Glacier Lake was conceived as a chromatic ballad to feature Markowitz. Mental Self Defensive Fitness derives its title from Public Enemy’s Fight The Power, and shares its political theme. This tune also serves as a bass feature for Oh, who solos at the top of the track and joins Paul for the melody statements. Straight Talk features a bouncy rhythmic hook and an interpersonal theme.
The title track, Let’s Get Tropical, is the most straightforward composition on the album yet warrants the most in-depth discussion. In essence, it’s easy listening by design. Written at the piano, sans algorithm, it reflects Paul’s growing interest in the music of composer and arranger Les Baxter and his acolytes. Paul’s colleagues Frank LoCrasto and J.B. Flatt first introduced him to Baxter’s music. The album title comes from a conversation Paul had with LoCrasto about his own Baxter-influenced music, which inspired Paul to explore this area in his own music.