Release Date: Mar 4, 2008
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
A band like Born Ruffians comes along once every year or so – a band audacious enough to succeed only with the elements of rock music. While every other blog prodigy out there is busy cooking up a multi-hyphenated genre stew (post-kraut-freak-folk-afrobeat, anyone?), these bands somehow manage to take the dusty old conventions of rock, twist them slightly askew, and emerge with something new and invigorating. Two-thirds of the time, these groups hail from Canada.
Red Yellow & Blue's primary colors are an apt metaphor for Born Ruffians' sound: the band sticks mostly to indie rock basics on their debut album, delivering lots of strummy guitars and yelped call-and-response vocals that can trace their roots back to the Pixies and Modest Mouse and through to Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. Songs like "Barnacle Goose," "Kurt Vonnegut" and "I Need a Life" are so quintessentially "indie" that at times, it's hard to hear much unique about them. Then again, the boldness of Red Yellow & Blue -- both the colors and the album -- can't be denied, and Born Ruffians' energy does spark something special occasionally: "Hummingbird" and "Badonkadonkey" are so jubilant and hyperactive, they practically bounce out of speakers.
Jerky, jangly indie rock with whiny boy vocals can be very charming in small doses, as Midland’s finest have demonstrated with their prior EP releases. But over the course of an 11-track album like Red, Yellow And Blue, all the unison way-hoo-hay-oohing gets very annoying, especially when it comes bracketed by earnest yelping and long strummy passages that go nowhere in particular. It would’ve been smart to try a few more singles and EPs before giving the album thing a shot.
Depicting a nerdy guy, a chubby guy and a normal guy shooting the shit obliviously while a party rages around them, Born Ruffians’ wonderfully stuttering video for “Hummingbird” (the first single off their debut album) casts the energetic, underage-looking lads as an indie-rockin’ Superbad. The only problem with that parallel? Red, Yellow And Blue is good. As in Supergood.