Album review: Babe Rainbow – Changing Colours

Source: album artwork

Words by Alexandra Dominica

Ah, Babe Rainbow. Who could forget our darling neo-psych boys from down under? This brand new record has us moving through from Byron Bay to the nexus of sound and music mecca – Laurel Canyon in the 70s.  It’s been a while, we’ve missed them and boy are we frothin’ for a surf. 

We’ve never quite craved the beach or citrus so much as we did listening to ‘Zeitgeist’. Recalling the more modern Parcels, it’s a tropical breeze of a record that entreats the listener to be in the now, to accept this strange reality for what it is, to move with the times and “peel the mandarin”. They’ve invited you to take a load off and groove away to the classic Latin rhythms and you can’t help but shed the negativity, practice mindfulness and ride the wave with them. 

Following this we move into more sombre territory. ‘The Wind’ was conceived in much murkier waters, during Australia’s bushfire season and is a hymn for all the lost bush babies and wildlife. This one really stood out for us; a Donovan vibe with Simon & Garfunkel ambience. Soul-stirringly deep, melodic and evocative, the beckoning whispers speak softly; “hold onto me and return to life.” You can visualise the scene, the flames in the skies across the endless horizon, as the flora and fauna slowly begin to restore and revive after the devastation. It’s a track predicated on the turning of the world and the magic involved in the great circle of life – it’s trancelike and just simply stunning.

There’s such gravitas in this record which follows through to the Jaden Smith Lo-fi pop collaboration on ‘Your Imagination’. Relaxed, uplifting and nostalgic with a modern twist, there’s a Beach Boys tinge which will have you sinking into the sand dunes. There’s a distinctly youthful and transient vibe with touches of pop culture references that brings it into the present:  “She only listens to The Lonely Hearts Club band.” If anything, it’s a sign that the Byron Bay bandits are hijacking the minds and ears of a hungry and unsuspecting audience.

The Babe Rainbow

We then move into ‘Ready For Tomorrow’ which recalls the older and more bubblegum sweet 60s psych pop releases we know and love. The barrels are rolling higher and higher and we’re nose-diving into the primordial soup of dance and neo-psychedelia. ‘California’ is much stronger and recalls the magnificent songwriting of days gone by, it’s striking but it’s effortless, “When you want ’em to change, oh people don’t change”.  Recalling the legends of both the present and the past, it’s pretty faultless. The track is almost like a panegyric ode to their LA family and their second sanctum.

‘Rainbow Rock’ bubbles to the surface recalling 90s rock with a distinct Hacienda Manchester flavour. All the while ‘New Zealand Spinach’ is a cheerful dawn-patrolling beach stroll with Beatles-esque harmonies. ‘Thinking Like A River’ is sinuous and soothing, living up to its namesake. Describing their sound as ‘God picking sunflowers’, our aquatically-inclined flower children are truly ‘Relaxed’ with a capital R. 

‘Curl Free’ is by comparison a change of pace and gentle reprieve and tribute to 60s surf pop culture. This one is simple and evens out the album with samples of seagulls and waves melting through the speakers – it’s a highly visceral experience and you can almost feel the sand moving between your toes. 

On ‘Changing Colours’ Babe Rainbow have made a splash and dipped their toes into every ocean, stream and river. Showing us they are far from a one trick dolphin, their sounds are submerged in all manner of sounds and swim influentially between both the Atlantic and Pacific seas. Achieving the laid back dreamy somnambulism as well as the disco-psych-pop cocktail they’re known for, this record along with their entire opus makes for a transportive and immersive ride. 

Changing Colours is due for release 15th May on Flightless Records

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