Born Ruffians – [Album]

Sunday, 13 June 2010

There are moments when one has to wonder what the mitigating factor might have been that prompted a band to spontaneously re-think its' sound from the ground up, and listening to Born Ruffians' sophomore effort, Say It, is one of them. When the band released Red Yellow & Blue in 2008, Born Ruffians had already established itself as a mildly synthetic and playful little band, complete with a tendency to get a little sophomoric for fun through a couple of EPs that were light in every possible sense of the term, but the primary colored album typified that fact. Regardless, they managed to flounce their way into a reasonably solid following – even if some passersby questioned how it could possibly have happened.

Now, two years later, one of two things has obviously happened and is being played out on Say It: either the band realized that what they were doing on Red, Yellow & Blue was pretty primary in design and needed improvement, or this new record represents the punchline to the debut album's joke, finally delivered. Right from note one of the album's lead-off track, “Oh Man,” Born Ruffians' rollicking brand of songwriting is still present but this time most of it is centered in the delivery of the songs; close listening reveals a finer, stronger attempt at lyrical craft, listeners just have to crack through the deliriously thick candy shell to get to it.

After your brain stops recoiling at the band's seemingly newfound sense of songwriting which includes more rockist instrumentation (guitars, bass, more solid drumming), then listeners discover that Born Ruffians are starting to write like a rock band on Say It – albeit one that was obviously inspired by Talking Heads. On songs including “Retard Canard,” “Sole Brother,” “Higher & Higher” and “Come Back,” Born Ruffians take some of the more classic themes in rock (“set the world on fire,” a sort of struggle with a fractured soul, the struggle to articulate oneself and be understood on “Higher & Higher” and waiting for the girl that got away – respectively) and simplify them before providing listeners with laminated versions of them; the block-y assemblage of the parts implies that the band is didactically working through the songwriting process (you can almost hear the bandmembers saying, “Okay, this part should go here, we should say this here….”), but the improvements made to the band's process reflect the improvements to how the songs hold up on repeated plays. That isn't to say that Say It is brilliant, but the record illustrates that Born Ruffians is capable of being something other than mawkishly ironic or stupid – which is a step in the right and more enduring direction.



Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother” – Say It


Say It is out now and available on Paper Bag Records in Canada and Warp Records in the rest of the world. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.