(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Album Review: Menace Beach – Lemon Memory

By on Thursday, 26th January 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Menace Beach Lemon Memory album cover‘Lemon Memory’ is the second album from Leeds-grown indie surf rockers Menace Beach and is the follow up to their 2015 debut ‘Ratworld’. Although the album was recorded in Sheffield, the songs were actually written in Ibiza, which you wouldn’t be able to guess considering the edgy rock flavour to the album. The band is fronted by Ryan Needham, formerly of Komakino, and Liza Violet, also of Department M. Truly a product of Yorkshire, the current line-up also includes Nestor Matthews (Sky Larkin), Matt Spalding (You Animals) and Nick Chantler (Seize the Chair). It’s an album that feels like a bit of an experiment. The tempo and guitars are dialled up more on some tracks than others. There’s also an occasional use of subtle industrial-esque synth distortion on some tracks, while others have a heavier, punchier attitude.

Standout ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’ is the second song on the album and sees Violet take the vocals front and centre. It’s easy to see why this was released as a single, and the thrumming guitar and Violet’s voice is reminiscent of Emily Haines of Metric. Featuring ghostly synth sounds contrasting with Violet’s soft vocals that are joined by Needham’s distorted voice in the chorus, the track has a spooky quality that draws you in. Like ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’, ‘Watch Me Boil’ features both Needham and Violet singing together. There’s something very special when the two voices join in song as the pair croon “kick me on the fire / you’ll only make me higher” repeatedly over a sluggish guitar and drum rhythm.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8wHP56Dyzo[/youtube]

There’s also something pretty catchy about ‘Suck It Out’, with Needham singing the title of the track over and over in the chorus. It’s a hazy track, with indistinct guitars and a steady drumbeat marching away in the background. Sounding like he’s far away on the track, Needham’s voice almost blurs together with the whirring guitars at times, whereas at others, the hissing guitar hook plays like an emergency siren.

The album plays out to the gentle and haunting ‘Hexbreaker II’, with Violet softly crooning on the track over a steady drum and guitar giving just a touch of feedback. It’s an eerie track that ties up the loose ends of the album, and provides a nod to the supposed curse that has been placed on the house of Violet and Needham. Spooky and pared back, the song feels like a gentle and subdued conclusion to an album that is at times a fuzzy, distorted experiment, and at others a homage to classic indie rock ‘n’ roll.

Having said that, I do feel like there’s something left to be desired on the album – not all of the tracks feel cohesive and some definitely stand out more than others. I would have liked to hear more of Violet and Needham singing together, as the tracks on which the two voices appear together feel the most rounded and memorable. But all in all it’s definitely not dull, and is worth a listen if indie surf rock is your bag.

6/10

Menace Beach’s second album ‘Lemon Memory’ is out now on Memphis Industries. They will begin a tour of the UK on the 31st of this month, which continues through February. The band are also scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017 in Austin in March. For more of TGTF’s coverage on the band, follow this link.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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