The Upshot: Hard riffs with pop-friendly refrains make for an enjoyable, though hardly revelatory, musical ride.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
Menace Beach’s second full-length, following 2014’s Ratworld, clears the fuzz and sharpens the narrative, moving away from blistered distortion towards a poppier, more finished sound. As on the debut, Ryan Needham and Liza Violet split vocal duties, with Needham’s cuts (“Give Blood,” “Sentimental,” “Can’t Get a Haircut) taking on an bubblegum brashness, while Violet’s (“Maybe We’ll Drown” and, especially, “Hexbreaker II”) drift into an ethereal dream pop. “Darlatoid,” one of Needham’s, balances abrasion and reverie, following a lanky limbed, off-hand bass line into pillowy soft choruses of the title phrase. “Suck It Out” is denser, tenser and more propulsive, but also softens hard riffs with pop-friendly refrains. The real pay-off comes in the Violet-led tracks, where serrated stabs of guitar puncture but never deflate great clouds of shoe-gaze-y sensation, a la Lush, in “Owl” and “Hexbreaker II.” Wholly enjoyable, but nothing revelatory.
DOWNLOAD: “Darlatoid” “Hexbreaker II”