Near the end of May at an MC Lars gig at Surya, the second support act was a band with a strikingly whimsical name – Malibu Shark Attack!, presumably a reference to a 2006 SyFy movie. Before playing another song the frontman of the band mentioned how he had only met everyone else on stage around five days ago. After assuming that this was a set up for a joke, it was a surprise when the punch line never came. The members of Malibu Shark Attack! had genuinely just met for the first time a few days before, but they had already recorded a full album that was available then and there.
Malibu Shark Attack! is composed of Rocky O’Reilly from Belfast, Northern Ireland and the rapper Tribe One from Atlanta, USA. O’Reilly was formerly part of the band Oppenheimer while Tribe One is part of the group The Remnant. Sections of songs were recorded by O’Reilly in Belfast while Tribe One recorded in Atlanta, and an album was made across an ocean.
The band describes themselves as an indie-rap duo. Still, questions of how the band fit into different genres appear throughout many of Tribe One’s lyrics, which bounce between goofy and intelligent but often have a reflective quality. ‘Better Off as Friends’considers how some might see them as neither real rock or real hip-hop while ‘Malibu Shark Attack’briefly wonders how their melting pot of genres could be marketed. In more detail they describe their sound as “post-new wave-prog-electronica-indiecore-synthpop rap”. Ignoring genre classification, Malibu Shark Attack!’s album is full of catchy songs, often energetic and fun but occasionally with a more sombre tone with heartfelt, earnest lyrics throughout.
The opening track of the album, ‘Better Off as Friends’, considers how fans of the duo’s previous efforts will respond to something different and is ultimately a plea for them to give it a chance. ‘Doing It Wrong’and ‘The Only Thing Worse Than Failing is Not Knowing’both asks questions about making a living as an independent musician, the first song seems more upbeat while the latter takes on a more scared but ultimately defiant tone.
The album isn’t always concerned with questions of self though. One of the standout tracks ‘BDMTHFCKER’is just a simple party anthem built around a Pulp Fiction reference. The music can occasionally take a more serious tone, for example ‘Back to the Start’is about a desire to return to a previous point in time. Tribe One’s two verses express yearning for before a friendship ended and before he stopped believing in God, while a guest verse by MC Lars is about wanting to go back before a friend’s untimely death, and Rocky’s instrumental backs the vocals with a forlorn sound.
It’s a testament to the bands skill that it can trade between moods without ever feeling jarring. If there’s a disappointing aspect to found it’s that album closer ‘Monsters Under Your Bed’ is a somewhat lacklustre note to end the album on. It feels like the album should have ended on the title track ‘Malibu Shark Attack’, which is upbeat and buoyant with lyrics feeling like something of a mission statement. Ultimately it’s the best song on the album.
Malibu Shark Attack is available to buy now at malibusharkattack.bandcamp.com.