Menace Beach – Black Rainbow Sound

Black Rainbow Sound is a band coming into their own. Menace Beach have released two great albums, Ratworld and Lemon Memory, over the past few years, however, for their third album they shift up a gear massively. Production-wise this is the best the band have sounded: well-rounded and sharp. Black Rainbow Sound above anything is exciting to listen to, the album that Menace Beach were always destined to make.

Electronics have always been in the formula for Menace Beach’s sound. However, on Ratworld and Lemon Memory, it was a guitar backed up with synthesisers deal. Black Rainbow Sound flips that on its head and the result is far more punchy. It’s as though someone has turned the crank and sharpened everything in the studio. ‘Hypnotiser Keeps the Ball Rolling’ sounds like a Camden Town haunted house with its vocal and aggressive beat. ‘Watermelon’ revisits these sounds, a charge of thick fuzz guitars and a synth pitch so high it sounds like shrieking.

Black Rainbow Sound is all the best things of Menace Beach condensed down. It plays with a gloomier and heavier side of the band contrasting with their familiar uplifting pop-hook laden choruses. In the studio Liza has been a far more dominant presence than previous records. Black Rainbow Sound feels very much like her brainchild.

Opening track and single ‘Black Rainbow Sound’ sets the tone incredibly well. It’s a collaboration with Brix Smith, formerly of The Fall. It kicks things off and shows this renewed Menace Beach. Not to diminish their previous albums, but on this record the band sound in their prime. With each album Menace Beach have grown and refined their abilities, and this latest offering is the sound of lessons learnt from touring and recording for six years. It’s a record that sounds like the band were buzzing with influence and ideas. The kind of record that comes out of drive and spontaneity. Of course, I could be completely wrong about that.

‘Satellite’ is the second single so far and a personal favourite of mine. It keeps a raw energy that has always come with the band but with tight production behind it, it sounds excellent. There’s a feel of a brilliantly produced album on a shoe string budget. The guitars sound mucky and the drums are pretty standard. Contrast this with some blissful analogue synthesisers and Liza Violet’s clean and dreamy vocal you have a perfect combination. This album represents the logical place that Menace Beach were always heading towards. They’ve captured, experimented and pushed themselves to this conclusion.

Black Rainbow Sound keeps things with a familiar lo-fi vibe but much better produced. It keeps an authentic lo-fi feel that still very much feels like going into the studio and just hitting record. It’s a band who clearly want to take their sound further forward. It isn’t interested in replicating previous successes. It lets its ideas stand on their own two feet and makes for a great listen. It’s all parts fringes, authenticity, uplifting and fun. Sadly, Black Rainbow Sound is further proof that Menace Beach are one of the most criminally underrated UK indie bands around at the moment.

Chris Middleton