Music Reviews

Menace Beach Ratworld

(Memphis Industries) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

The latest debut LP to drop off the stellar conveyor belt of the Leeds rock scene is from a band that quite simply love the 90s. Menace Beach bring with them a snarling fuzz that nods as much to the heydays of brassy Britpop and woozy shoegaze as it does to the sneering overtures of grunge, cramming an awful lot into a sprightly record spanning a little over half an hour. Stylized riffing and bumptious hooks are governed informally by a volatile ramshackle of teetering tempos, making for a hugely exciting record and a modern, scuzzed-out take on an array of archived sounds.

When listening to Ratworld, you don’t need to travel too far through it to see just how committed Menace Beach are to their obvious influences. You might have already got there from the very title of opening track Come On Give Up, with the name itself typically channeling the casual, intrinsic motif of self-revulsion that was associated with the 90s alternative scene. If you didn’t catch on straight away from that giveaway, a slick, beefed up bending riff hooks you by the time you get to the chorus. By the time the rickety, breakneck punk of Lowtalkin and the swirling, pastel-shaded shoegaze of Blue Eye have arrived within the first 5 tracks of the record’s course, you’re left in no doubt whatsoever.

The music of Menace Beach is the result of a watertight songwriting partnership between Ryan Needham and Liza Violet, ably supported by a revolving cast of bandmates that translate their impeccable melodies and caustic arrangements into an abrasive barrage of hooks with no wasted motion at all. Incisive riffs range from surfing in on the crest of an appetizing wave to teetering on the edge of control, screaming down narrow alleys and mounting both curbs in haphazard fashion with minimal transitional periods. The consistency and economy of such a dynamic take on a glaring pallet is stirring throughout, right up until the diffusing grunge of Inifinite Donut and exhilarating, morphing psych of Fortune Teller bring the album to a close. Ratworld wears its influences brazenly on its sleeves, but its execution is impressive, presenting an odd bird view of a world that is ostensibly its own.