Toronto threesome strip back but up the exuberance for an uplifting soundtrack to these hard times

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Album review: Born Ruffians - 'Say It' (Warp)


Album review: Born Ruffians – ‘Say It’ (Warp)

Many bands have been doing their damnedest to instil some hope in these fear-stricken days with their lysergic acid-splashed kaleido-rock. Recently, though, the expanding ripples of the chillwaves that [a]Caribou[/a] (née Manitoba) kick-started in 2003 with [b]‘Up In Flames’[/b] have become anaemic, like slacker-rock dog-ends. [a]Beach House[/a], [a]Girls[/a], [a]Local Natives[/a] – they offer as much joie de vivre and subversion as new Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s policies are likely to.

But in a mirror image of spending cuts and harsh realities, the finest are responding like the rest of us: doing just as much but with a lot less. Caribou’s ‘Swim’ is full of anxiously groovy oscillations; [a]Panda Bear[/a] is riding the minimal aggression of cold wave; The xx couldn’t sound more naked if they added arse-slaps to their skeletal songs. And now [a]Born Ruffians[/a], whose latest album of ear-candy is strangely austere.

The Canadian trio’s gently ecstatic 2008 debut told us they could build star-bright songs with just simple, angular riffs, but they were fond, too, of jacking up on sweet melodies. With Rusty Santos on desk duties, and still at that new-psych sound, Born Ruffians made like a collegiate-rock fusion of [a]The Strokes[/a] and [a]Animal Collective[/a].

Fuelled by comics, arcade games and trips to the shooting range, the band’s minds still twitch with unruly imagination. But this time [b]‘Say It’[/b] recalls the airy refreshment of Vampire Weekend’s ‘Contra’ and the garage-pop fun of [a]Jonathan Richman[/a]’s ‘Rock’N’Roll With The Modern Lovers’. Their taut sun-dazed guitar lines wiggle adorably accompanied by just deft polyrhythmic drumming and understated sax (the gently soulful [b]‘Come Back’[/b]) on folksy, happy-go-lucky psych-pop songs that erase all worry. After all, as Luke LaLondone sings in his just-pubescent voice on [b]‘The Ballad Of Moose Bruce’[/b], “What a silly world it is, to be so miserable over something inane as this”.

[b]Chris Parkin[/b]

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Click here to get your copy of Born Ruffians’ ‘Say It’ from the Rough Trade shop.