Malachai – Return To The Ugly Side (Domino Records)

Return to the Ugly Side

Malachai’s The Ugly Side Of Love was the most exciting debut album of 2010. The Bristol duo’s marriage of late-60’s UK psych and trip-hop was as inspired as it was breathtakingly original. Less than a year later they’ve returned with Return To The Ugly Side, which references the title of their debut but trades in that album’s warm 1960’s stylings (both sampled and performed live) for a colder and harsher sound that recalls Portishead (whose Geoff Barrow has collaborated with Malachai in the past), and other far less savory 1990’s electronica/trip-hop types. There’s nothing terribly wrong with the album as a whole, and its fourteen songs breeze by in a very tidy thirty-five minutes. However, it can’t compete with the high standard Malachai set for themselves with under-appreciated songs like “Snowflake” and “Shitkickers”. Worse, they take some ill-advised musical detours into areas best left alone, such as the drum and bass experiment of “(My) Ambulance” and the Prodigy-esque “Mid Antartica (Wearin’ Sandals), which make you wonder if the ship has gone off course.

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