12 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

At the heart of this Canadian trio's sound, the inimitable Jonathan Richman holds court, infusing the Ruffians’ lyrics with his own brand of lovelorn poetry: “Your smile, my smile/Our faces mash a while;” “Won't you please be mine, love / Won't you come outside?”  and “’Life sucks and love is dumb’/Golly, that's a real lie,” are sung by Ruffian Luke Lalonde with equal parts distress and persuasion. The sweetly anthemic “Red Yellow & Blue” drips with lush reverb, Lalonde’s vocals uncannily evoking those of Panda Bear, but moving on to the ragged, folky “Badonkadonkey” and the fluttering, hiccupy “Hummingbird,” the spare, abrupt rhythms and breezy arrangements call to mind Vampire Weekend. A few tracks feel inspired by the clanging guitars and jittery vibe of Modest Mouse, such as “Foxes Mate for Life” which starts out deceptively wobbly and wispy. All that aside, this is fun and fresh music, with some strong original moments, too, such as the lovely, acoustic “Little Garçon” and the nearly a capella “Kurt Vonnegut,” where the band’s talent for playful background vocals and chorus arrangements (both shouted and sung) steal the show.

EDITORS’ NOTES

At the heart of this Canadian trio's sound, the inimitable Jonathan Richman holds court, infusing the Ruffians’ lyrics with his own brand of lovelorn poetry: “Your smile, my smile/Our faces mash a while;” “Won't you please be mine, love / Won't you come outside?”  and “’Life sucks and love is dumb’/Golly, that's a real lie,” are sung by Ruffian Luke Lalonde with equal parts distress and persuasion. The sweetly anthemic “Red Yellow & Blue” drips with lush reverb, Lalonde’s vocals uncannily evoking those of Panda Bear, but moving on to the ragged, folky “Badonkadonkey” and the fluttering, hiccupy “Hummingbird,” the spare, abrupt rhythms and breezy arrangements call to mind Vampire Weekend. A few tracks feel inspired by the clanging guitars and jittery vibe of Modest Mouse, such as “Foxes Mate for Life” which starts out deceptively wobbly and wispy. All that aside, this is fun and fresh music, with some strong original moments, too, such as the lovely, acoustic “Little Garçon” and the nearly a capella “Kurt Vonnegut,” where the band’s talent for playful background vocals and chorus arrangements (both shouted and sung) steal the show.

TITLE TIME
2:32
3:38
3:08
3:26
4:09
2:57
4:30
2:39
3:04
4:03
5:18
3:05

About Born Ruffians

Delivering a playful variety of indie rock that weaves shifting guitar patterns though spare, hooky melodies and sweet but snarky vocals, Born Ruffians are a band that was formed in Midland, Ontario, Canada in 2002 by guitarist and singer Luke LaLonde, his cousin Mitch DeRosier on bass and vocals, and drummer Steve Hamelin. Originally named Mornington Drive (the group self-released an EP under that handle, though LaLonde claims he doesn't have a copy), the three musicians moved to Toronto in 2004, and soon changed the group's name to Born Ruffians. The trio earned a reputation on the Toronto club circuit for their witty songs and lively stage show, and their first demo helped them land a record deal with the British electronic label Warp Records, who handled their releases in North America, while XL Recordings became their label in Europe and Paper Bag released their music in Canada. Their self-titled debut EP was released in 2006, and the band toured the U.K. and North America, landing a cameo on the popular British TV series Skins. In 2008, Born Ruffians released their first full-length album, Red Yellow & Blue, but despite strong reviews, they began feeling pressure from their label and management after the album didn't sell as well as expected. Hamelin briefly left the band, but returned in time for the sessions for 2010's Say It, while the group expanded to a quartet with the addition of Andy Lloyd on guitar and keyboards. Primarily written in the studio, Say It received mixed notices, with many feeling the material wasn't up to Born Ruffians standards. The band took time off to regroup, and LaLonde released a solo album, Rythymnals, in late 2012, but in April 2013, the group came back together with their third album, Birthmarks, primarily written during a collective retreat in rural Ontario, which became the first release in Born Ruffians' new American deal with Yep Roc. After the first round of touring in support of Birthmarks, Hamelin left Born Ruffians for good, and Adam Hindle signed on as the band's new drummer. In 2015, Born Ruffians returned with their fourth full album, Ruff. ~ Mark Deming

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