September 20, 2008

Born Ruffians - Red Yellow & Blue (2008)

Not to get all philosophical on your ass, but what came first... America's Vampire Weekend or Canada's Born Ruffians? Releasing eerily similar records within months of each other is stranger than post-Scientology Tom Cruise. It's kinda like when some mathematical genius from Tacoma wins medals inventing equations that some kid in a Cambodian village figured out 5 years ago, except no one knew... what are the odds?

Anyway... they've received QuickCrit praise before, but Red Yellow & Blue deserves its own nod. Overall, Born Ruffians sound like Vampire Weekend's cooler big brother with all the sonic quirkiness, minus the Afro-beats and Ivy League pretense. Vocally, it's an expert blend of My Morning Jacket meets Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, which will either intrigue or dissuade you (hopefully the former, not the latter). I've listened the hell out of this album and it's already cemented its place in my top ten list for 2008 releases.

My two favorite tracks, the absolutely adorable "Foxes Mate For Life" and romantic "Red Elephant" (nod to Sunny Day Real Estate?), are worth checking out, like, now. When he sings "Why am I here, when you're over there? Let's meet at the fountains at Dundas Square..." I actually want to drive to Toronto just to meet up. Oh, and they win the award for "Cutest Songs Titles in 2008." On stand-out "Hummingbird," you get hand-claps, a Futureheads-style sing-along chorus, and the recognizable guitar of Les Savy Fav. The bass punctuates in unexpected ways and the "oohs" and "ahhs" make you want to, well, hum along. The ever-jangly "I Need A Life" will inspire a social life, while "Little Garcon" will make you break out smores for a campfire sing-a-long with its playful drum taps, harmonica, and youthful vocals. "Badonkadonkey" boasts the same disjointed guitar-work of Vampire Weekend's "M79" with a bass-line straight out of Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen," while "In A Mirror" shares the same off-kilter vocals of Pavement's "Shady Lane"... the notes are off the mark, yet still hit it somehow.

...and "Kurt Vonnegut," with its competing vocals, "Oh won't you come outside, love!" round-like chorus, and upbeat music evoke such unabashed happiness... instead of throwing pebbles, this is the song I'd want a lovelorn boy to play outside my window in the middle of the night... (yeah, "In Your Eyes" won't work on me)

The Final Verdict:
If you like any of the comparisons I name-dropped, this album is worth at least one listen. And if you love Vampire Weekend, I'm fairly certain you'll love these guys as much, if not more... I actually think they might be better... ::ducks::


Anonymous said...

Dude, I love this album too. I was distracted by the vocals/music to even think to read the lyrics... but when I did, I was rather impressed too.

Mona said...

Totally. I love the last part of "Red Elephant" the most, it's so beautiful:

"Put your head upon my chest, it breathes, And my fingers through your hair they weave, And your shoulders are the perfect sea, In which I get lost invariably, Oh the elephant is up to sea, If it meets the peach fish underneath, And when I am you and you are me, We are stirred as spoons in lover's tea."

Glad I'm not the only one who pays attention to lyrics... sometimes it feels like no one else does.

Anonymous said...

Do you hear any Strokes-ish guitar here as well, or is it just me...

Mona said...

Yep, I totally do. I can't stop listening to this record!