Featuring Belfast’s Rocky O’Reilly and Atlanta’s Tribe One, Malibu Shark Attack are an incredibly interesting transatlantic indie-rap duo that receive help throughout this album from numerous other musicians such as MC Lars, Tim Wheeler (Ash) and Kevin Steinhauser (Math The Band). Ciara Donnelly, aka Yellowbridge, also provided vocals on the band’s recent tour of the UK and complimented the Malibu Shark Attack sound strongly, unfortunately she doesn’t appear on this album, however, and for those that are yet to see the band live you’ll just have to wait in order to discover the impressive vocal beauty that she brings to the band’s sound.
Kicking off with ‘Better off as Friends‘, this self-titled studio album gets off to a solid start as Tribe One name checks his other group The Remnant as well as Rocky O’Reilly’s former band Oppenheimer, citing fears of Malibu Shark Attack’s potential critics who may prefer their older work to their new crossover material. One thing that became instantly clear from seeing Malibu Shark Attack live was that Tribe One is a storyteller; he raps about what he knows, his lyrics have depth and there’s also a real level of emotional attachment to the music. Right from the start of the album this notion of Tribe One as a storyteller is instantly recognisable, something that continues throughout the release as he reflects upon a variety of different subjects with his lyrical content.
‘Yo into New York‘ hits hard with a powerful chorus and an impressive rapping style in the verse, ‘Doing it Wrong‘ meanwhile follows up powerfully with a message of staying true to yourself, following your dreams and sticking to your guns even when it may be perceived that you’re doing it wrong. On the surface ‘Doing it Wrong‘ is a fun song about a childhood dream of wanting to be Batman, at its core though it’s far more than that, an incredibly motivational offering of music that stands out strongly as one of the best tracks on the album.
With ‘Back to the Start‘ and ‘Internal Organs‘ Tribe One reflects upon love, loss and friendship, with a helping hand from MC Lars on ‘Back to the Start‘ as the post-punk laptop rapper adds to the track with his own experience of loss as he shows his appreciation for a friend that sadly departed far too soon. Serious or jovial, Tribe One tackles his subject matters impeccably every time, setting the scene strongly and gripping you with his lyrics as well as his impressive rap flow. Instrumentally the album is packed full of swirling synth sounds and impressive indie flavour and Tribe One’s lyrics really grab you as these two components come together and keep you coming back for more.
‘Bdmthrfckr‘ is Malibu Shark Attack’s nod to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, complete with Tribe One’s take on how he would have handled the film. With a fast rapping style in places and plenty of synth styled goodness, ‘Bdmthrfckr‘ is a very fun song that features guitar work from Ash’s Tim Wheeler and additional vocals from Angie McCrisken. It comes at the midway point of the album and provides a fun turning point as the band go from handling several pretty serious tracks to once again providing a little light relief.
‘It Takes Time‘ and ‘Plans for the Weekend‘ follow, the latter of which coming across as a bit of a party anthem from the band that’d no doubt go down well on a night out. There’s a bit of a Black Eyed Peas feel with ‘Plans for the Weekend‘ when Ugly Duckling’s Dizzy Dustin kicks in, and Tribe One once again gets his fast rap flow on. With its 8-bit backdrop this is definitely a very fun track that certainly has a lot to appreciate about it, and with tenth track ‘No More Tears‘ the 8-bit feel is furthered as Belfast based rapper Bee Mick See also joins the party.
The eponymous ‘Malibu Shark Attack‘ is another track from the band that stood out strongly at their live show along with ‘Doing It Wrong‘ and ‘Bdmthrfckr‘, with a chorus that’s simple, effective and also gets you remembering their name. On a live circuit level the track is absolutely perfect as it ensures that you don’t go forgetting about the band, as an album track it is equally excellent though as an impressive piece of music that has fantastic instrumental flavour and a strong vocal style also. The track tells the tale of the duo coming together from separate sides of the globe to make an album together despite never having met until arriving in Leicester to begin a UK tour on May 15th; it’s a strong story of what can be accomplished in the modern age, where two artists from separate sides of the globe can create an album together as impressive as this without ever having met.
After the energy of ‘Malibu Shark Attack‘, things are toned down for penultimate track ‘Moment of Truth‘, providing a sense of the album winding down as it comes to a close. Closing track ‘Monsters Under Your Bed‘ is another slower number from the band, with the album ending on two songs that bring things to a mellow and chilled out conclusion. After the absolute energy and excitement of ‘Malibu Shark Attack‘, the final two songs on the album feel well chosen as closing numbers, with the band demonstrating their ability to hop between sounds and ultimately provide an album with a huge amount of diversity and intrigue.
Tribe One has a real talent for storytelling, seems at ease in front of a crowd as evidenced by the band’s live performance and has a strong talent for rapping about subject matters that you can tell truly mean something to him. Tribe One is not just rapping for the sake of it, every track is heartfelt and sincere and this is what makes him such an impressive front man. Malibu Shark Attack are definitely a band to check out if you haven’t already done so, and with their self-titled album available for streaming on Spotify and to purchase from Bandcamp, there really is no reason whatsoever not to at least give this album a listen. Defining themselves as post-new wave-prog-electronica-indiecore-synthpop rap, Malibu Shark Attack are a band that provide a little bit of everything, so regardless of your tastes in music it really is well worth giving this band a whirl.