Menace Beach – ‘Ratworld’ album review

Menace Beach - Ratworld

We’ve been fans of Menace Beach for a long time (in fact, they were the first band we ever covered on this little blog just over two years ago) and were delighted to see them sign to Dutch Uncles’ label Memphis Industries. Tipped by many in the know – and, well, us! – as one of the most promising acts of the year, debut album ‘Ratworld’ has already earned them a major support slot with The Cribs on their spring tour and the band have quickly became a 6Music favourite.

Opening with the Dinosaur Jr-esque riffage of ‘Come On Give Up’, Ryan Needham kicks off proceedings with some knowing self-doubt that will resonate with anyone who’s ever doubted decisions they’ve made or their standing in society: ‘Maybe I’m a stupid man’, before Liza Violet sings the title in unison with Ryan – it’s perhaps the sweeter side of the band’s vocals joining forces with the slacker side. ‘Elastic’ recalls ‘Do or Die’-era Super Furry Animals with its short and spiky running length and general upbeat nature, while the brooding bass of ‘Drop Outs’ has a warped organ and distorted vocals that show the band’s love for all things DIY.

Many people have mentioned how Menace Beach take their influence from 90s bands – but they’ve chosen the good ones. You can hear everything from ‘Popscene’-era Blur and the more interesting side of Britpop (Mansun/Suede) to Sleater-Kinney, The Lemonheads and Guided by Voices throughout the twelve tracks – which rather brilliantly has a running time of around half an hour. The Seinfeld-referencing ‘Lowtalkin’’is another noisy blast of grunge-leaden indie with squealing guitars that prick your eardrums. That it’s followed by the far more subtle and restrained Liza-sung ‘Blue Eye’ makes it all the better as it shows Menace Beach are a band happy to dip into many different genres.

With members of Sky Larkin and Hookworms also in the band, there is plenty of scope for experimentation and they embrace this in style. The bass-led title track sounds like it could have soundtracked an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while there is a more traditional indie-rock melody on ‘Tastes Like Medicine’. The closing ‘Fortune Teller’ has a compelling and twisted carousel atmosphere that rings around inside your head for weeks on end.

Although the name ‘Ratworld’ doesn’t make it sound the most appealing place, you should come on in and enjoy the scenery. Menace Beach have come up with something weird and magnificent.

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