If you’re going to shift your sound, then who better to team up with than Brix Smith. Joining infamous post-punk Mancunians The Fall in the early ’80s, she helped reshape the band into something more akin to Californian new-wave pop. Here, she joins Leeds band Menace Beach on new single ‘Black Rainbow Sound’, ahead of the band’s third album of the same name. Menace Beach are a loose collection of musicians, a ‘sort-of supergroup’, featuring members from Hookworms and Sky Larkin, but featuring Liza Violet (formerly of Department M) and Ryan Needham (Komakino) at its core.
‘Black Rainbow Sound’ is a notable move away from the band’s previous lo-fi ’90s alt-rock guitar noise, found on debut Ratworld and its follow-up Lemon Memory. Here, bleepy synths and loops whirl around a spiky guitar that starts off like Pavement but, as the whole builds – with a grinding bass, drums that snap to the point and vocal harmonies – starts to sound increasingly krautrocky. This is particularly true of its middle eight as Needham spits “Make it all the time, make it all the time”, before it leads into Smith, cameoing with a voice from the ether, a character that changes the song’s narrative, talking about being “between molecules…beaming out thoughts which…ricochet across the universe”. It’s delightful nonsense that breaks up the repetition of the song and, after several listens which bring out the multiple layers, the track reveals itself as a bit of a pop grower. Quite a feat from a band whose last two singles were titled ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’ and ‘Give Blood’!
With a chunky bassy chug, shiny bright synths and vocals that chime just right, the song’s multiple layers that arch together are a perfect aural depiction of the titular ‘Black Rainbow Sound’, with Brix Smith’s golden shimmer as its highest curve. With the knotting together of the natural electronic and guitar tendencies of members Liza and Ryan, ‘Black Rainbow Sound’ points towards an album that may well be Menace Beach’s best.
Black Rainbow Sound, the upcoming album from Menace Beach, is out 31st August via Memphis Industries.
Photo Credit: Tommy Davidson