Black Rainbow Sound, by Menace Beach
Suggested by Stuart Emerson
Menace Beach is a good name for a band.
For a start, it’s vaguely threatening, which allows you to imagine the style music contained within their catalogue. With a name like this, you can be confident you’ll not be getting low-fi lounge covers of Justin Bieber classics or boyband Christmas jingles. It’s also adhered to the Rule of Three Syllables to better aide the talents of a chanting crowd. So many classic bands have fallen foul of this… it’s easier to chant “Men-Ace Beach! Men-Ace Beach!” than in is to chant “Queen! Queen!”, for example.
But the best aspect of the band name is the pun. We do like a pun in this project.
Menace Beach (like Venice Beach, see!) is decent, but the most fruitful province for Punny Band Names has to be the Realm of Tribute Bands. There are some absolute corkers, like Fake That, The Faux Fighters, The Rolling Clones Oasish, and my new favourite Proxy Music. There’s Abbatoir, a heavy metal tribute to Abba; Dread Zeppelin, a Reggae-tinged Led Zep band with the 300lb Elvis Impersonator on vocals, and there’s Aerosith, a parody Aerosmith / Star Wars band. At university, I stumbled upon an NME band listing for Pimp Floyd, which still makes me laugh twenty-five years later.
So… great name, but is it great music?
Menace Beach are an indie rock band from Leeds, sporting a distorted cacophonous veneer like an smoking jacket bought from Oxfam. There’s a heady dose of Noise Pop here, hot on the heels of the Sleigh Bells release I reviews as ALBUM 208, but Menace Beach is far less sparkly and much more, well, menacing.
There’s a sweet swirl of psychedelia throughout, most noticeable in the opening titular track Black Rainbow Sound. The band have a central spine of indie guitars, and some sweet and ephemeral vocals that twitch and twitter at the edges of your hearing, and they bolster this with a strong electronic component. Sometimes this works, in tracks like Hypnotiser Keeps the Ball Rolling and my personal favourite Watermelon, but sometimes it’s a little village fete and store’s own brand, as if done on the cheap with a tape recorder and some Casio keyboard presets. The song Tongue is the best example of this shabby chic aesthetic.
But yes, there’s a lot to enjoy here, from the surf guitars to the jangle-pop noises to the melodic piano to the quirky and elegant vocals. While it’s not quite as accessible as my previous Noise Pop daytrip, the Indie Rock that’s behind it does bring a passion that’s well received. Black Rainbow Sound has been the first album that’s made me wish I’d adopted a X.5/10 review score system, but I shan’t be miserly today. Menace Beach get a qualified 7/10.