Mar 27, 2008

Red Yellow & Blue-Born Ruffians

If you seek exuberance without banality, energy without trivialiy, something to dance to, but not mindless to listen to, then "Red Yellow & Blue" is the album for you. Fun with a capital F. This is the debut album from Born Ruffians in a nut shell. This shot of sunshine from the young (all 21 or 22) Toronto trio totally fulfills the promise of their 2006 EP. As a bonus, whilst that EP was energy driven to the extreme, this album shows a more mature side. In amongst the highly addictive pop tunes there are lovely, quieter moments that prove that this band is no one trick pony. Born Ruffians are here to stay and this platter of mirth splattered goodness is ample proof.

The opening track, the title track, is a pleasant surprise. All coy and lingering, it immediately shows that these boys are more then sum of their parts. A gently strumming guitar is matched by some evocative piano, before whistling joins in. Its wistful nature is truly delightful. Then comes the back to back power shot of "Barnacle Goose" and "Hummingbird". These songs are typical, but yet irresistible, of the Ruffian sound. Short, sharp pop songs full of verve and bite. Featuring fierce yet melodic drumming, punchy bass lines and the unmistakable yelpings of Luke Lalonde. Lalonde's voice is seemingly always discussed in reviews, sometimes unfavourably. But I find it a strength. In between the woahs and heys, his voice has a certain melancholic charm. It will never be mistaken for Sam Cooke, but then this a smart pop band that plays edgy and smart. Fun and loose. This is never better illustrated then on my favourite song off the album. "I Need A Life", a joyous slab of pop wonder. All jangly guitars, pulsating drums and that "Oh, But We Go Out at Night" refrain delivered with great effect. If this song doesn't stay inside your cranium for days, then I will be surprised.

Thankfully the remainder of the album is chock full of more delights. There are still more pop gems to come, like "Badonkadonkey" and the EP hangover "Hedonistic Me", but there are songs that are varied in texture and style as well. Like the softly sung "Little Garcon", which features some subtle drumming or the slyly attractive "Foxes Mate For Life", a song with staying power. I am also a big fan of "Kurt Vonnegut", which features a can't miss melody and some quite deliberately sad lyrics. See, I think you should never judge a book by its cover. Underneath the skin of a Ruffian, lies a beating heart, one to tell stories and sad tales. Not that they will ever be confused with Okkervil River, but these boys have more going for them then just pop smarts. And they have plenty of that too. I think a very hard thing to do is have a two or three piece band and still write highly effective songs that can grow and blossom with time. Born Ruffians do this with ample ease. Their songs definitely have staying power. Fun never sounded so good.

MP3: Hummingbird

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