For better or worse, it isn't 1995 anymore. This essential fact seems to have escaped Malachai, whose new album is an unabashed recreation of a sound last fashionable fifteen years ago: trip-hop. It's all here: the languid tempo, the careful use of sampled strings, the touches of psychedelia. They're even from Bristol, for heaven's sake. There's the occasional concession to modernity, and the odd touch of sixties pop, but on the whole nobody would have batted an eyelid if this had been released back in the days when even The Sneaker Pimps were putting out successful singles. Trouble is, nobody's going to bat an eyelid nowadays either, and for very different reasons: the genre is tired, outdated and deeply unfashionable. Return To The Ugly Side does little to change that. It's a competent but uninspired genre exercise, and nothing more.

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