ALBUM REVIEW: Menace Beach – Black Rainbow Sound

8/10

The third album from Leeds-based duo Menace Beach is a celestial treat for lovers of alternative rock. The songs on ‘Black Rainbow Sound’ show a band who have come into their own. Having always embraced a diverse set of influences, this time around the pair explore them to even greater effect. The vividly energetic title track immediately launches the listener into the album’s stratosphere, a propulsive helping of Krautrock-infused psychedelia with driving bass, infectious vocal hooks and the guest vocals of former Fall member Brix Smith-Start.

The vintage drum machines and analogue keys on ‘Satellite’ bring to mind Stereolab with a twist of the same sort of Yorkshire kitsch found on Human League or Pulp records, while the classic ‘Crawl In Love’ is one of 2018’s best tracks, bursting at the seams with squalling analogue synths, a monster of a shoegazey riff, a pleasingly lo-fi drum sound, and a weird druggy atmosphere billowing from its groove like a dense smoke. In places, almost bringing to mind a more psychedelic, shoegazey version of Mansun. ‘Tongue’ has nagging Fall-like repetitions, off-kilter vocals, and a brooding chorus, before the record journeys into the colourful lo-fi of ‘Mutator’. The woozy synthpop daydream ‘8000 Molecules’ is a nice contrast to ‘Hypnotiser Keeps The Ball Rolling’, an enjoyable helping of stoner Krautrock with raucous post-punk riffage.

‘Holy Crow’s melodic and playful verses combine with scuzzy, distorted bass that gives the chorus a razor sharp edge, before weird, wonky electronics add to ‘Watermelon”s forceful motorik rock n roll and enticing dual vocals from Liza Violet and Ryan Needham. The discordant meets the harmonious on the grungy space rock closer ‘(Like) Rainbow Juice’, featuring a superb monologue from Brix as the indie icon makes her second appearance on the LP.

A fine mixture of post-punk electronica, and psychedelic shoegaze synthpop, with some excellent sonic qualities and the best songwriting yet from the duo.