In Review: Babe Rainbow - Changing Colours

Changing Colours doesn't see the Byron Bay band go completely chameleonic, but ensures enough sonic change from past releases to indicate they're still riding the waves of psychedelic exploration.
Posted: 12 May 2021 Words: Tom Mangham

Byron Bay neo-psychedelia auteurs Babe Rainbow are now as well known for their steady output of soft 60s throwback rock as they are for being avid surfers, but there are elements of adjustment on fourth LP Changing Colours. The clue is in the name, Changing Colours, making us wonder if this a new Babe Rainbow that we’re going to see. It’s a record that has been birthed out of a pandemic and each band member becoming a father last year, and if anything screams change, it’s parenthood.

Released via the bands own Eureka label, the 12-track album features a flurry of different components, more so than on previous records, drawn from all manner of psychedelia. Second single ‘The Wind’ notably draws upon the Donovan-esque ambient folk that has served the band so well in recent years, but it’s with sixth track ‘Rainbow Rock’ where the group’s experimentation really comes into play, throwing it back to 90s psychedelic rock, reminiscent of bands like Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene. While it may be the only bout of true experimentation on the record, it doesn’t fall flat, snatching at the listener and making them yearn for a lot more than just the two-and-a-half minutes that they got.

In the build-up to the release of Changing Colours, Babe Rainbow pulled out a surprise collaboration with American hip-hop artist Jaden Smith (yes, that one) on single ‘Your Imagination’. It’s a well-crafted piece of lo-fi pop that’s as dreamy as one could expect, surprisingly though, Smith does not appear on the album version of the track, with his contribution instead replaced with an instrumental. Although the song is an encapsulating dream-piece, Smith’s soft vocals were a key addition to the single and his absence is considerably noted.

Stand out track and latest single, ‘Ready for Tomorrow’, is a lovely call back to the funky psychedelic vibes that listeners of previous Babe Rainbow releases will have become accustomed to. A pounding funk bassline keeps the hook rooted to reality while frontman Angus Dowling’s vocals are as dreamy as ever. In this case, the lyrical content is a contradictory form of angst, centring around the stress of everyday city life, a far cry from the once purely positive output like that of early release ‘Love Forever’.

While Changing Colours may not divert too far away from the tried and tested Babe Rainbow psychedelic record formula, it’s hard to critique when they have been doing it so well for years. The various different elements that Changing Colours offers ensures enough change from past releases so that the band doesn’t have to go completely chameleonic in the same vein as Flightless Records pals King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Looking forward however, it’ll be interesting to see where the group goes from here, and whether they burn out like so many of their psych contemporaries.

Changing Colours is out Friday (14th May) via Eureka Music/AWAL/Flightless Records.

More from buzz