Laid back, psychedelic vibes
Double Rainbow, the latest release by Australian band The Babe Rainbow, is a consistently mellow, relaxing experience. The band’s psychedelic and Eastern influences are the driving force of the album, and The Babe Rainbow effectively blends these sounds, though Double Rainbow fails to step outside the box, save for a few moments.
The Babe Rainbow is a self-described “monkey disco” band according to their official Facebook page, but they stand out as bearers of the 1960s torch. The band is clearly heavily influenced by psychedelic rock bands such as The Grateful Dead, and other groups such as the Allman Brothers and The Beatles work their way into The Babe Rainbow’s sound. Their vintage influences help to distinguish The Babe Rainbow from modern indie acts.
Double Rainbow quickly puts these influences to good use, as “The Magician” opens the album with a laid-back chord progression atop an easy-going drum beat for an instantly relaxing vibe. “Supermoon” continues the album’s trippy, psychedelic course. “Gladly,” led by a Grateful Dead-style riff with a hint of Hendrix tonality, offers a slight variation on the album’s formula. Through these three tracks, the rhythm section sits tightly in the pocket and holds the songs together well. Still, the drum beats are a bit simplistic and similar to one another.
“Darby and Joan” showcases more of the band’s Beatles-esque vocals and the outro guitar solo is clean and concise, reminiscent of Duane Allman. “Eureka” is a standout, serving as the band’s first and most significant departure from its core sound on Double Rainbow. The use of sitar as the track’s lead instrument diversifies the instrumentation and introduces the band’s Eastern influences.
This trend continues with “Alan Chadwick’s Garden,” once again showcasing the sitar. This instrumental track is soothing and calming and would be an excellent song to fall asleep to. However, conscious listeners may be annoyed at the repetition of the same single chord played on the sitar for nearly a full minute in the middle of the song. “Cool Cat Vibe” jumps right back into the band’s psychedelic sound. The chorus hook “Cool Cat/Pink is the new black” stands out, as this line possibly speaks to the uniqueness of The Babe Rainbow’s sound in 2018. While many modern indie acts want to paint it black, The Babe Rainbow prefer pink.
The Babe Rainbow reveal their folky side with “2nd of April,” a track led by an acoustic guitar that sounds similar to an Iron & Wine song. “Running Back” carries a more soulful R&B sound, which serves as a nice change of pace from the rest of the album. The vocals don’t seem to follow the instrumentation though, as the singer opts for the same laid-back vocal style employed throughout the record. Although the vocals aren’t bad, they feel incongruous to the rest of the song. A more impassioned, soulful rendition could have taken this song to another level. Much like the vocals, the organ solo towards the end of the song is appealing to the ear, but it stays dialed back. This song is begging to be blasted wide open, but the band continues to hold back, never giving the listener the payoff crescendo that they’re hoping for.
Those looking for a laid-back, chill-sounding album to saunter through a summer day with will love Double Rainbow, as will fans of a quintessential ’60s sound. Double Rainbow also has its shortcomings. Some elements are repetitive, and the album lacks effective dynamics, failing to ever get out of first gear. Moreover, Double Rainbow fails to strike any thematic or melodic note other than cheery, mellow, laid-back vibes. Still, The Babe Rainbow nails this sound perfectly, and Double Rainbow makes for a great album to listen to while relaxing, reading or meditating.