Label: Invada Release date: 18/04/10 Link: Official Site To call Ugly Side of Love sample heavy would be like calling Nova Scotia “a bit out of the way” or Lionel Messi “alright at fooball”; that is to say it would be a gross understatement. Repurposing and repackaging sounds with all the enthusiasm of the ultra-talented Dewaele, brothers Malachai pack the gaps with sixties/seventies-sounding riffs and cutting-edge experimentation. The Bristol duo go swimming into the under-explored waters of Status Quo, Blodwyn Pig and The Incredible String Band, emerging soaking wet to lay in some Radiohead style glitches and breaks along with Massive Attack style trip-hop. The enigmatic and elusive Gee and Simon (with surnames unknown) have been promoted so far in the UK by Portishead member Geoff Barrow. Live they hide respectively behind a monkey mask and hoodie and are one of very few groups that can be believed when they say; “We’d rather let the music do the talking.” Opener ‘Warriors’ samples the cult film of the same name and adds searing synths to a late sixties jam, in what is best compared to Jimi Hendrix playing over a ‘Kill Bill’ murder scene. ‘Shitkicker’ builds on that pattern with a catchy and powerful delivery, manic but controlled vocals and a percussive stomp that wouldn’t have looked out of place at Woodstock, despite channelling the odd element of JJ72. The songs build layer upon layer, flexing its genre-busting muscles without hint of a strain. After a trippy third track, the album’s highlight, ‘Snowflake’, plays out as a modern take on ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ with the delivery of Oasis or Kasabian, a direct and effective pop track, but without being marred by the utter stupidity and pomposity of those groups. ‘Blackbird’ keeps the energy and focus to craft an aggressive and haunting song in the manner of Primal Scream at their psychedelic bass-led best. Keeping some in reserve, ‘How Long’ makes for the most straightforward song on the album and far from exposing the cracks in lazy experimentalists it reveals a pop sensibility akin to Ok Go or Weezer. The penultimate track ‘Fading World’ obscures an ethereal backing track with a pacey folky song and persistent brass before dwindling into an instantly unforgettable melody. Thirteen tracks later and with the rule-book little more than confetti, Malachai are done. It is hard to dismiss a single track from this album, even the dead-ends seem more a result of deserved exploration than pretention. ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Shitkicker’ demonstrate this duo more than have the tools to stumble on treasure and equally interesting scenes, making for brilliant, insistent and unique tracks. By blending genres with the confidence of Girl Talk, Malachai craft an album that remains improbably individual. By mixing and cutting with such rare skill, they carve a niche for themselves out of ability alone. ‘Ugly Side of Love’ could well be this year’s ‘Kid A’ despite every song sounding more than at home on ‘Strangely Strange but Oddly normal’ (Island Records 1967-72 anthology). It is a fascinating and enthralling album, aloof and unknowable without being stubborn and inaccessible. Even so, Ugly Side of Love is not the sort of album to blow you away. It does on occasion lack impact, a gap not helped by the two standout tracks being so instant and, dare I say, conventional. There are a million more lines to be written about something of such rare variety and quality but I would rather let the music do the talking. Photobucket