The Bristol duo Malachai carved themselves an enigmatic position on the musical landscape with 2010 debut Ugly Side Of Love. Listeners were treated to a unique and scatty ride through ’60s psychedelia, ’70s prog, ’90s trip hop and howling garage-soul, a nice breather from the tide of indie/electro-pop.
Return To The Ugly Side bares all the hallmarks of its predecessor but sees the Bristol duo overcome their more obvious influences to perfect their scatterbrained aesthetic into a cohesive sound of their own.
It is and album clearly designed to be experienced in one sitting. Songs seem to have a symbiotic relationship as they flow effortlessly into the next. Each is bound together by an overwhelming sense of unease. This unnerving feeling exists from the thudding demon stomp of ‘Mid Antarctica (Wearin’ Sandals)’ to quieter moments like the gorgeous, haunting duet with Katy Wainright on ‘Rainbows’ and even the fuzzy The Beatles circa Revolver ‘(My) Ambulance’ and ‘The Don’t Just’.
Return To The Ugly Side is fresh and organic whilst feeling remarkably vintage and yet it admirably avoids clumsy nostalgia. The veracity with which they deliver their fusion of 60s/70s psych-rock, trip-hop and soul is all the more impressive. It deserves to make a much bigger impact than last year’s Ugly Side Of Love. It was never going to be easy to follow up such a great debut, but somehow they have managed to create and equally enthralling and inventive record.