Malakai - Ugly Side Of Love (Invada/B-Block)

Huw Jones | Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Malakai - Ugly Side Of Love (Invada/B-Block)

Malakai: Hebrew for 'My Messenger' and Bristolian moniker for creators of the outstanding Ugly Side Of Love - a debut that with so much crossover appeal is perversely good enough to fuck. A realist blend of scratches, samples, sixties pop, psychedelic rock, soul, breaks and beats, their prophetic vision doesn't peddle in doom or gloom but unashamedly reflects the ills of a world on its last legs.

Stitched together with an apocalyptic candour that cuts a timelessly urgent retro fit, Ugly Side Of Love takes no prisoners starting as it means to continue. Kicking off hard and fast with a dub infused, purple haze of news reports and warning sirens, 'Warriors' uneasily acknowledges an impending threat. And amid a relentless barrage of chaotically paranoid beats and riffs that are so infectious, removal necessitates neurosurgery, looks for a belated answer.

The onslaught doesn't stop there: there's no time for small talk when deliberating the end of the world; Malakai don't allow breathing space between tracks. Part spaghetti western, part Waterloo Sunset riff, 'Shitkicker' (formerly 'The Battle') rapidly spawns a lysergically-enhanced call to arms, throwing mind-bending shapes before morphing into the comedown friendly 'Snake Charmer' - a hypnotic pre-cursor to the sonic force of 'Snowflake'. To use the word standout here would belie the album's pedigree, but the explosive, uncluttered, climactic immediacy of piano, drums, guitar and passionately aggressive vocal, ensure it's not far off the mark.

And so the album continues on a journey of constant self-reinvention and terminal discovery. The intensity is at times overwhelming; the relentless deadlock created by the madcap genius of break heavy 'Omega Time' alongside the hallucinatory psych-rock overdose of 'Blackbird' is broken by beach guitar ditty 'Moonsurfin' and the claustrophobic cold-sweat deja-vu of 'Only For You'.

The album soon becomes psychologically denser, adding layers of pressure through the desensitized televisual violence depicted in 'Lay Down Stay Down', the incredible tearstained euphoria of 'Another Sun', question marked 'How Long' and (title says it all) 'Fading World'. The album finishes with 'Simple Song', which despite the lyrical content (Judy Finnigan, Mechano, Pinocchio, Roy Orbison and Cheryl Tweedy all get a mention) is not as throwaway as first impressions might otherwise suggest.

Ransacking genres with an innovative twist, 'Ugly Side Of Love' celebrates a world dying an avoidable man-made death, and is successful in aspiring to be one of the most complete albums you're likely to hear this year.

Rating: 5/5