The Leeds indie rock band are headed by Ryan Needham and Liza Violet who share lead vocal duties. They’re joined by Matt Spalding (bass), Nestor Matthews (drums) and Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson (guitar).
After the success of their EP ‘Lowtalker’ in early 2014, indie label Memphis Industries snapped Menace Beach up with the band’s debut album in mind. Ratworld contains twelve songs and from the outset you get melodious fuzzy rock songs laden with hooks but also a feeling that you’ve heard it all before.
In particular when Violet takes the lead vocal the band sound very much like Veruca Salt with all the heavy guitar sound and sweet singing that that band were once renowned for. Tracks like ‘Elastic,’ ‘Ratworld’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ could have come directly from 1994’s ‘American Thighs.’
Fortune Teller by Menace Beach
Elsewhere Menace Beach draw on My Bloody Valentine with ‘Blue Eye,’ a song drowning in feedback over which a barely discernable lyric is sung.
‘Tastes Like Medicine’ is probably the most infectious and upbeat song on the album and arguably it’s best and least derivative.
If Ratworld was the first album you’d ever heard you’d likely find it a very satisfying listen. Each and every song stands on it’s own merits and as an album you’d be hard pushed to find a better one for singing along to whilst preparing for a night out on the town with a bottle or can in hand. However, there is little or no originality on display here and it’s hard to enjoy the songs fully whilst your brain insists on playing ‘spot the influence.’
I have to admit to being a fan of the band live and perhaps my slight sense of disappointment with Ratworld stems from an enthusiastic liking of their live performances at Beacons Festival and Sunderland’s Pop Recs last year.
I an in no doubt that in Menace Beach we have a very talented group of players but it seems that they have yet to find their own sound. There’s enough potential here to keep me interested but next time around I’d be hoping for something that takes its inspiration from here and now.
Reviewer: Russell Poad