The new album from Malachai, The Ugly Side of Love
, is a blast of vintage sampled soul. Executive produced by Portishead's Geoff Barrow, the duo of Gee Ealey and Scott Hendy have made the most entertaining record so far this year. Primarily a cut and paste job, these grooves are deep and familiar but are used in ways you've never quite heard before. The opener, "Warriors", contains the clinking beer bottles and "Warriors, come out to play-yay" line from the 1979 Coney Island cult film, over what sounds like a slinky Jimi Hendrix Experience beat. "Snowflake" recalls Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath"with classic rock riffing that won't let up. Ealey digs into his vocals, describing his lustful search for release. "How many times have you gone below? Hanging around those seats and back rows. When nobody's eyes can see what you know.." He's unafraid to show us his "lizard brain" on the prowl, barely under control of his impulses. When he shouts "I'm hungering!" you believe him. There's an air of menace in some of these songs and it is welcome. What's missing from today's lofty neo-prog and clever chamber pop is the whiff of the streets and The Ugly Side of Love
has got that in spades. "Moonsurfin'" sounds like the soundtrack to a psychedelic beach movie from the 60's complete with Hell's Angels and bad acid trips. This isn't a mellow Jack Johnson bonfire full of warm, cuddly, well-scrubbed kids smiling and strumming acoustic guitars. Someone might get their ass kicked at Malachai's party.
There's a groove-centric toughness here that Hendy's tinny, gritty samples and Ealey's tight two part harmonies bring. I thought I heard Bowie, Kinks, Bad Co., Blood, Sweat and Tears, Cream, but who knows? The whole thing is blended together seamlessly, so the spot the sample game is irrelevant. As the album draws to a close, the edits become more explicit. The ragged clicks and pops that have been in the background come to the fore, as if to show us the machine breaking down. On the second to last song, the passionate, apocalyptic, reggae-infused stunner "Fading World," Ealey sings "You don't need your records now. You've got to hold on to your world." You know things have got to be dire, when these Bristol boys are even contemplating parting with their amazing collection of vinyl. -Dan Siegler
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MP3: "Warriors" - The Ugly Side Of Love
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