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, and indeed most others as far as this release is concerned, 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.


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