Second time lucky for young Canadian indiepoppers? Unfortunately not. 'Say It' may be a grower, but Born Ruffians have already proven themselves capable of instantaneous gems - so why bother taking a backwards step?
By all rights, Born Ruffians should have been huge on the back of their debut album. The Canadians should have been on front of the NME, lauded by Mojo, and given a pretentious 9-point-something rating on Pitchfork. For some reason, though, 'Red, Yellow & Blue' flew largely under the radar, with its fabulous lead single 'Hummingbird' the closest thing to a commercial hit that the Toronto band have achieved - largely due to it being picked up for use on TV ads, at that.
It's even more unlikely that their second album will do the job for the trio, though. Luke LaLonde and co. seem to have reverted, in a way, to the demo-like material that a band of Born Ruffians' calibre should have discarded in their parents' garage, and the result is a disjointed album that requires more patience than necessary to appreciate. LaLonde's voice was previously a focal point of the Born Ruffians sound, but on these songs he seems to enjoy perhaps too much freedom to sprawl his versatile quiver (at times, akin to Russell Mael of Sparks) over.
The arrangements here sound strangely unfinished, too. Although the songs are stark by nature - largely just guitar and drums, with minimal bass - it's almost as if they're mere outlines, waiting to be coloured in. 'Nova Leigh', for example, could easily be a highlight if its sound was given a fuller range; 'Come Back' is one of the better tunes, but could have been a sloping summertime pop delight with the right production.
By trying to be more experimental, Born Ruffians seem to have forgotten what exactly it is that they do best - bright, scuffled indie-pop numbers with memorable hooks. A crying shame.