It’s January, the festivities are over, and all we’ve got to look forward to is the crap weather and our mundane jobs. It’s the perfect time of year for a little escapism, and Menace Beach have thoughtfully provided an injection of the sunshine that their almost-namesake is famous for. The Leeds-based band are an indie supergroup of sorts, with core members Ryan Needham and Liza Violet joined by a revolving cast of musicians from bands such as Sky Larkin, Pulled Apart By Horses, Hookworms and You Animals. Lowtalker is the band’s first release on Memphis Industries, and it’s a five track slab of surf-pop meets slacker-rock with a healthy dose of psychedelia for good measure.
‘Fortune Teller’ kicks off the record with trippy psych organs and laid-back guitars, with Ryan and Liza’s vocals floating alongside. The words are a little indistinct, yet the duo’s voices feel comforting all the same - a pleasant, relaxing counterpoint to the dense instrumentation that surrounds them. The intensity of the record ramps up almost immediately after though - ‘Honolulu’ builds a wall of fuzz atop a satisfyingly robust bassline, before demolishing the whole thing with a blissfully carefree chorus of “yeah yeah yeah”s and meaty, incisive guitar riffs. The implacable rock anthem ‘Nervous’ packs even more of a punch, matching its slo-mo pogo pace with guitars that alternately sear and soar. It’s not all just noise, however, as there are there are subtleties in these songs if you care to listen for them. The keyboard line of ‘Where I Come From’ worms its way through a squall of guitars, whilst ‘Cheerleader’ hides a spacey keyboard line amongst its gleeful sonic storm and warped, BRMC-esque vocals.
Needham has gone on record as saying that these songs are about 'getting better, making friends and trying to reconnect mentally and spiritually,' though the lyrics are often so drenched in distortion that I’ll have to take his word for it. Despite that, there’s certainly a positive vibe running throughout the record. On ‘Where I Come From’, for example, lines like “Where I come from, all we ever wanted was looking unreal,” come across as a celebration rather than an indictment of a past life, whilst the titular ‘Fortune Teller’ seems like he or she must have had some good news to offer. To sum things up, Menace Beach are part Pixies, part Pavement, part Beach Boys, all feel-good. If the band have got their eyes on a full-length record then they might want to consider varying the pace a little more - it certainly feels like they’ve got at least a couple of rapid-fire numbers in them - but for now, Lowtalker will certainly help to blow the wintery gloom away.
7Paul Faller's Score