Menace Beach are the latest beast to rear its head from the churning waters of the Leeds music scene, a scene which is integral to the very fabric of the band. MJ from Hookworms, Sky Larkin’s Nestor Matthews and Matt Spalding of You Animals join the creative force of Liza Violet and Komakino’s Ryan Needham for debut LP ‘Ratworld’, which is set for release on January 19th. The band has just completed a tour with Pulled Apart By Horses, whose bassist Robert Lee is an erstwhile collaborator, as is Paul Draper of Mansun.
The follow-up to the ‘Lowtalker’ EP sounds something like a paean to the fuzz pedal recorded in a California garage in the ‘90s by a band raised on Britpop – and it’s great. From the frenzied ‘Lowtalkin’ (nothing to do with the earlier EP), to the swirling ambience of gentle slow-burner ‘Pick Out The Pieces’, the album is an accomplished collection of familiar sounds reworked into fine indie-rock tunes, more often than not boasting killer pop hooks.
The band mostly serve up choice cuts of straight-ahead indie, doused in an irresistible fuzzy warmth; 'Drop Outs’ and album opener ‘Come On Give Up’ bounce along on the back of infectious, if inoffensive,mid-tempo riffery. The energy is raised for album highlight ‘Elastic’, which displays the vocal chemistry between Violet and Needham to perfection. The band aren’t afraid to deviate from their winning formula, however, grunging things up on ‘Tennis Court’ and bringing waves of headphone-bothering feedback into play on certified shoegazer 'Blue Eye’. The experimentation keeps things fresh and interesting, and the only real bum note on the record comes in the form of the dissonant chorus of ‘Dig It Up’.
The wheel has certainly not been reinvented on ‘Ratworld’, but that was never the point. The point was to deliver a record full of songs as retro as the old NES game from which the band took their name, and while that game was a duffer the album is anything but.
'Ratworld' is out on January 19th 2015 on Memphis Industries
Words - Joe Ponting