Malachai Album Review: Ugly Side of Love

by Jack Diablo
An abundance of good old-fashioned samples is what you’ll find on Ugly Side of Love, the new album from Bristol, England’s Malachai (formerly Malakai). With Geoff Barrows of Portishead fame serving as mentor, the duo have assembled a record chock full of samples, psychedelic music and just enough pop to keep you coming back for more.
The first track borrows its name from the 1979 cult classic film The Warriors and begins with some psychedelic noodling before the bottle-clinking sample kicks in set to some funky retro soul. If you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll no doubt recognize the chorus and in case you forgot the line, “Warriors, come out and playeeay,” well–that’s sampled too.
The psyched-out funk beat continues in ‘Shitkicker,’ this time with a rad Western galloping guitar rhythm interlude. From here, the album goes off in different directions. There’s the dream-like ‘Snake Charmer’ with its odd Oriental tonality and the hard-pumping rock n roll of ‘Snowflake.’ Despite the mix of genres, there is a common thread of psychedelia that connects the otherwise disparate musical styles that are present on the album.
The songs are pretty short and sweet (not one exceeds four minutes), even though it would be perfectly okay by me if a few went on a little longer, but the album keeps its momentum consistently without disappointing. In the middle you will find the lighthearted, fun and summery ‘Moonsurfin’ after which things slow down and darken a bit with songs such as the druggy trip-hop ‘Only For You.’
The Beach Boys are evoked in both sound and subject matter on ‘Another Sun’ with lyrics like “Let’s remain friends until it hurts. You keep the sun and I’ll hold the rain. And when you’re gone, the sun will come from another place than you.” It’s on this later half of the album to which the title refers. These are honest, sometimes painful songs that don’t shy away from cutting right to the core.
What’s important is that although clearly inspired by trip-hop, Malachai are not a rehash but more so the proverbial phoenix risen from the ashes of a debatably dead genre. Ugly Side of Love is an original but familiar album worthy of your attention.