Label: Sub Pop, Memphis Industries, Lil Chief Release date: 02/03/10 Website: The Ruby Suns Myspace One of the best things in life is a pleasant surprise. In an avenue of life where such a thing is rarely untouched by hype, disappointment or otherwise, the surprise, in the form of The Ruby Suns' second album Fight Softly, is all the sweeter. Add a little context; they’re from Aukland New Zealand, an increasingly promising scene but as of yet relatively unexploited, it’s a ‘difficult second album, and we just might have something a little special on our hands. The album opens, fittingly, very smoothly. Melodic, sedate rising/falling synths underpin a light falsetto before electronic drums start up and ‘Sun Lake Rinsed’ hits its measured, sparkling stride, like a blissed out Hot Chip jamming with Animal Collective in a bucolic idyll. Following tune ‘Mingus and Pike’ is straight up psych pop of the highest order, daring to resist undue experimentation and opting for craftily constructed melodies and a constantly engaging range of textures. First single ‘Cranberry’ subsequently proves that this exploration of distinct textures, the feel of each song, is what underpins the relatively safe pop stylings elsewhere, and makes this album shine really quite brightly. Sure it’s been done before, but rarely this relaxedly, consistently, and well. Calvin Harris-esque synths punctuate a balearic, off-kilter rhythm and song structure; the chorus is so utterly cheeky, fun, hip-shakingly brilliant that it would be unfair to the song to suggest anything else on the album comes close to topping it. It might sound too dangerously on-trend, too cloyingly mild-psych hipster runoff for those with the hardest of hearts, but everyone else will be keen to be dragged straight into its gravity well.
As with so many acts or promise, perhaps the only thing that prevents this album from being truly stratospheric is its easily mappable course. It’s consistency and reliance on electronic arrangement is a real double-edged sword, and whilst no track bombs as such, some suffer being similar enough to ‘Cranberry’ that, really, you may as well just listen to ‘Cranberry’ again. Ambassadors in a surge of quality New Zealand exports, The Ruby Suns are another facet, a delightful, gleeful and modern one at that. A much more accessible proposition than their first effort, and one that hopefully will see them garner the recognition that they deserve. Fight Softly is an apt title for an album that just might have something to prove, but aims to do so through pretty melodies and intelligence rather than brute force or sheer left-field weirdness ala perhaps their 2007 debut. It succeeds admirably. Photobucket MP3: