SummaryReturn To The Ugly Side is the follow up to last year's debut Ugly Side Of Love. Whilst maintaining their chopped up sound - a unique combination of 60's pop-psych and hip-hop with a twist - Return To The Ugly Side sees a more cohesive, grown up Malachai in all their fervent duality; tunes/beats, past/present, dread/hope, ugly/beautiful... With Return To The Ugly Side, Malachai have made another classic.
Their 2009 album debut The Ugly Side Of Love was an extraordinary record, one of the best to emerge from Bristol's excessively creative scene. The album had hallmarks of an archetypal Bristolian bent, but it wasn't simply trip-hop but something spikier and tougher, rooted in myriad fabulous forms of the '60s psychedelic underground, from folk to funk, from Tropicalismo to the mad darkness of Turner (Mick Jagger) holed up in his lair in Performance.
There are changes, however. It's more influenced by their individual hip-hop roots than the first album. Gee mentions '60s pop-psych bands The 23rd Turnoff. The Cavemen and The Savages; Scott adds, Portishead's third and DJ Shadow's first, with a more chopped up feel in tandem with recent Gonjasufi and Flying Lotus albums. In the orchestrated intro 'Monsters', Ben Salisbury's arrangement aims for what Scott calls, "the space and strangeness" of Jon Brion's score for Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind that infiltrates other nooks and crannies of the album. It may sound more like one band now but Return To... has many moods. 'Anne' throws a Lennonesque (circa 'Tomorrow Never Knows') curve, but The Beatles never sounded like this. Mid-Antarctica ('Wearing Sandals'), has a metallic crunch but a contradictory dreamy core. 'Rainbows' - which samples Welsh rockers Mann's 1969 instrumental 'Parchment & Candles' - distills that sweetness and adds a female vocal in the form of Sheffield's Katy Wainwright to underline a more beautiful side to love.