As someone who was weaned on grunge, whether we like that particular word or not, there is always going to be a significant part of me that is likely to warm to an outfit such as Menace Beach. When it came to fuzzed up rock music the stuff I was into always carried a catchy hook or melody. This came from being raised on The Beatles I guess – something Cobain himself in part grew up on. So, of course, I was a big Nirvana fan, the album ‘Bleach’ included, but their debut was perhaps as far as I was willing to stray when it came to heavy territory.
For example, when friends started listening to bands including Metallica, Pantera and Korn, that got a little too much for me, particularly all in one sitting. I guess I’m a three chord trick, pop song nestling within, type of music consumer. So, naturally, from the opening chords of Menace Beach’s debut ‘Ratworld’ I was immediately enamored.
It’s that trick of pulling off a rough around edges rendition of a, nevertheless, very polished earworm – it’s a contradiction that’s just really enticing to me. So, first of all, I would strongly urge you to check out this aforementioned LP from 2015. You don’t have to be a hipster gig attendee to want to bop your heart out to ‘Elastic’ (though it maybe, probably helps) whilst you’d have to be practically musically brain dead not to enjoy the obvious craft that flows into songs such as ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ and the hilariously titled ‘Infinite Donut’.
However, it’s now 2017 and that album is two whole years out of date. Enter ‘Lemon Memory’. If this is the difficult second album then it sure as heck doesn’t sound like it. Right from the off it feels like the tunes are reaching out and grabbing you by the throat, opener ‘Give Blood’ giving way to the thudding drive of ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’ and immediately rendering you a willing captive audience.
Menace Beach haven’t reinvented the wheel with this follow-up, more they have cannily built on the strengths of their first offering. But don’t presume this makes for a cautious approach, if anything what is being delivered is done so more recklessly than before. Perhaps this is down to an increased confidence that if you’re choosing to listen then it’s because they already have your attention, affording them the opportunity to take more severe left turns, occasionally, and deconstruct.
If there is a criticism to be made perhaps it could be asserted the songs are at their most appealing when they’re straight to the point, best encapsulated by ‘Sentimental’ whilst for some listeners a song such as ‘Owl’ might start to outstay its welcome at around 5 minutes by the time you’ve reached track 8 of the album. Not for me I’d hasten to add, I’m from the listen to and get immersed in an album generation NOT part of the make a Spotify compilation of the easiest listening you can find crowd – I’m just scraping the LP barrel desperately looking for some advice Menace Beach obviously in no way need. So, to sum up. Get both Menace Beach albums and listen to them. Now.