Psychedelic cut-and-paste merchants Malachai get uglier with every album. The Bristolian twosome started out with 2010’s ‘Ugly Side of
Love’, released ‘Return to the Ugly Side’ the following year and now here we are with ‘Beyond Ugly’, the concluding panel of this aesthetically objectionable triptych.
Sure enough, the pair’s second album was a mellower reworking of their excellent, sixties-infused debut, whereas here the aim is to break new ground.
On that score, Malachai have unfortunately failed. Derivative throughout and oddly lacking in both melody and restraint, the resulting album is genuinely a chore to listen to.
The standouts, such as they are, include punchy lead-off track ‘Sweet
Flower’ and the Eastern-tinged ‘I Deserve to No’.
The remainders are largely forgettable, although I wish I could purge ham-fisted Massive Attack pastiche ‘Dark Before the Dawn’ from my mind.
The problem is focus.
Malachai’s debut was brilliant precisely because of its indebtedness to British psychedelic blues.
Here, there are debts to everyone but no pay-off.
That’s not to say she’s the withdrawing type at all – in our hour together, plenty of topics and tangents are cheerfully examined and discussed
with heartfelt candour – but simply that she’s learned not to overshare:
several times during the interview she halts mid-sentence and begins an
entirely new train of thought without missing a beat, as if her brain is thirty
seconds ahead of her mouth and has already encountered a fenced-off area.
She gracefully evades questions about any specifics of her life, preferring to
talk more about ideas and hypotheticals.
The most she gives away is an admission of regret about the ‘Past Life
Martyred Saints’ tour:
“If I’d have had more ability to express myself while things were happening, rather than just keep going and be strong, things might’ve been different,” she says.
“There were moments on that tour where if I’d said, ‘hang on, I need a
minute, this is fucking with me’ it might have been better for me than
trying to be all stiff-upper-lip.”
Within five seconds of this, though, Anderson has changed the subject.
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