Release Date: Mar 4, 2008
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Having already established his Beach Boys fascination with 2005's self-titled debut, Ryan McPhun reached into his travel journals for Sea Lion, spiking the Ruby Suns' pop/psychedelia with ample amounts of African, Polynesian, and Kenyan instrumentation. The resulting album follows the recent paths of Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend by finding some middle ground between indie pop and world music. Sea Lion is an aural melting pot, with ukuleles and sun-baked singalongs sharing space alongside '80s-styled electronica and programmed percussion.
The second album from this New Zealand band plays like the house music for the Discovery Store. “Oh, Mojave,” the Maori-sung “Tane Mahuta,” the pun-tastic “Kenya Dig it?,” “It’s Mwengi in Front of me,” and “Adventure Tour” play like love letters to distant lands and cultures, and album highlight “There are Birds” mixes Nico-like grandiosity with African percussion and Pet Sounds melodies. The Ruby Suns’ greatest strength is how easily they’re able to pull off this mix on Sea Lion without seeming over-bearing or preening.