Review: Born Ruffians — Ruff


bornruffiansBorn Ruffians are Canada’s answer to Modest Mouse, but without the world-weary undertones of the Seattle indie giants. The Ruffians bring the same angular, stop-start sound, and similar yelpy vocals, but it is all wrapped in a fun, good-timey vibe that’s difficult to resist. If we must qualify their sound further, let’s call it Modest Mouse meets Vampire Weekend.

This, their fourth album, is as good a place as any to be introduced to their music. It isn’t a radical departure from their early works, but it kind of cements their particular corner in the indie universe. It’s a sound that hinges on the inventive, hooky guitar stylings of lead man Luke Lalonde. Whether it’s the provocative electric guitar chord changes in “Stupid Dream”, the bizarro-soul of “Don’t Live Up” or the acoustic chug-a-lug of “When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away”, Lalonde has a way of keeping things interesting most of the time.

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But when the band’s not actively dabbling in new grounds and sounds, it’s not at its best, and I suppose that’s true of just about everyone. Take away the ringing chords and surprising atmospherics of “Yawn Tears”, or the swampy surf of “Let Me Get It Out”, and you’re left with the more standard sounds of a poor man’s Weezer. The playful ruminations on indie life sound a little too cute by half without cutting edge sounds supporting it:

Got a deal
Sign it real quick
I didn’t read it, no
Didn’t think twice
Bad advice
I didn’t need it, no
I said, “Hand me a pick
I’ll write a little lick, uh-huh
About my feelings, yeah”

Say, one day, I’m gonna make it
One day, I’m gonna make it
One day, I’m gonna make it
Fake it until I make it

But questions about consistency aside, Born Ruffians have claimed a particular sound as their very own, and that’s maybe the best thing I think we can say about any Rock band. Here’s looking forward to more new explorations from these guys in the years to come.

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