February 29, 2008
The Ruby Suns
7 / 10 There are few creatures as universally despised as the gap-year student; haggling for rugs with people who earn four pence a day in Ulaan Baatar and starting every conversation with “when I was in Indonesia…” Despite this, travel can broaden the mind. Californian Ryan McPhun moved to New Zealand but still sounded bound to sunshine pop on The Ruby Suns’ self-titled debut. For album number two, he’s been wandering round the world, capturing sounds on his Dictaphone and stitching them into a patchwork quilt of music. The result is a more complex and less twee record, travel-worn and weird. ‘Blue Penguin’ skips into a skewed, woozy calypso rhythm reminiscent of Beirut, McPhun’s vocals drifting as if from a transistor radio among ambient Eno-esque burblings. ‘There Are Birds’, meanwhile, recalls The Magnetic Fields. A strange, lovely trip.
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