Album Review: Babe Rainbow – Changing Colours

The Breakdown

Extending an already impressive streak, the Australian quartet's fourth album might be the sound of transcendence itself, and can hold its own among the best music that 2021 has to offer.
Flightless Records 8.3
Babe Rainbow (credit: Maclay Heriot)

With the rise of studies into psychedelic and also their profound effects on mental health, Australians Babe Rainbow themselves might be a sonic microdose into the exploration of transformative consciousness. The Byron Bay outfit have almost quietly gone about their business in recent years as one of the finest bands on the planet, with a growing catalogue of some of the finest psychedelic rock albums in the last decade. The Aussies’ most recent offering, Today, released back in 2019, was a criminally underrated gem that really didn’t receive the plaudits it truly deserved; and just two years later, their newest output – and overall fourth album – Changing Colours might be the sound of transcendence itself, with a cosmic-yet-rootsy-Earthly hippy-freak-out odyssey that fits perfectly within the canon that is Babe Rainbow’s technicoloured universe.

Kicking off with lead single Zeitgeist, Babe Rainbow guide us into their tropical forest realm. It’s a slice of truly joyful sun-bleached, mouth-watering Vitamin D producing, pastel exotic psychedelia to kick off the magic-carpet ride that is Changing Colours and sets the scene for what is to come in the world of Babe Rainbow. ‘The Wind’ takes on a more delicate psychedelic-folk feel. Delicate and serene, it’s as if one is sitting on a scorching beach gazing at the sunset across the horizon. 

One of the lead singles, ‘Your Imagination’ retains the psychedelic-folk meditative tranquility and is a sedative sun-drenched summer soother, whilst ‘Ready for Tomorrow’ takes things up a notch with Babe Rainbow’s own brand of psychedelic fuck, drawing parallels with ‘Johny Says Stay Cool’ and ‘Monky Disco’ from their self-titled 2017 album along with giving nods to Californian surf-rock. Speaking of California, next up is an ode to the West-coast state with ‘California’, a croony, country-tinged psychedelic odyssey with subtle sci-fi esque synths in the background, it’s one for the late afternoon porches.

‘Rainbow Rock’ is a fuzzed-out voyage akin to the likes of July, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and the 13th Floor Elevators, while ‘New Zealand Spinach’ brings to mind the Byrds and Country Joe & The Fish – Babe Rainbow really aren’t afraid to go ‘retro’, yet crucially avoid coming across as derivative. The sun-worshipping bunch constantly add their own spoonful of prismatic psychedelic-pop goodness to the exotic cocktail.

‘Thinking Like a River’ is stunning euphoria for the heavenly plains itself, while the band channel Syd Barrett with the acoustic serenade whimsical delight that is ‘Curl Free’; the gorgeous Smile is like a deeply felt lucid dream -otherworldly spectral psychedelic-dream pop for late nights, sure to appeal to fans of the likes of Crumb and Beach House who will find themselves right at home.

Album closer ‘Different Stages of Life’ is a left turn even for Babe Rainbow, opting for a lo-fi jangle-pop feel; it tips its hat to Mac Demarco with a little bit of Flightless labelmates Leah Senior thrown in. If this was a teaser for a new sonic direction, it really works.

Overall ‘Changing Colours’ continues down the path of The Babe Rainbow and their kaleidoscopic sun-kissed, psychedelic pastoral adventure. It’s a stunning labyrinth that is so joyous to get lost in, and in a year with so many strong album of the year contenders, it already should hold its place near the very top. Now get yourself down the beach, pour yourself a frozen fruit smoothie, maybe treat yourself to a Fruit Pastilles ice lolly and put Changing Colours on for sun-soaked heaven.

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