Published Sep 30, 2015Okay, so you made it. You've toured around the world, you've put out records that people enjoy and your shows guarantee crowd sing-alongs. But what about the sleepless nights, the greasy late night bites, the endless drives and feeling of being eaten alive? So ponders Born Ruffians' Luke Lalonde on RUFF, their fourth and decidedly most accessible release to date.
RUFF starts off with the sweetly dizzying "Don't Live Up," which posits the idea that the dream of success is not quite as perfect as it seemed. This theme continues from there, shaking off a bit of the blues on "Yawn Tears," in the refrain — "What's ahead and what's behind you doesn't matter too much when you're looking up" — and on the reassuring "Don't Worry Now," in which those are the only lyrics of the song. The most intriguing thing about this record is the juxtaposition: nearly every song is lyrically quite dark, but the melodies are fetching, addictive and bright — cheerful, even. The best example of this is the beguiling "(Eat Shit) We Did It," an awfully amusing feel-good tune that should have the adverse effect.
The only true low point of this record is "Fuck Feelings," which starts off sounding like a Nirvana imitation and sports lyrics like, "Hey man, you'll never hold that hand, like never, ever again." Otherwise, this is refined Ruffians, not exactly the wild youthful folly of Red, Yellow & Blue or the poppy Birthmarks (which felt a little too much like a 'Luke Lalonde and the Ruffians' record, really), but just as radio-ready as the latter. Highlights include "Let Me Get It Out," "When Things Get Pointless I'll Roll Away" and "& On & On & On." RUFF explores the idea of naivety, being bitter but wanting to be better, and it feels cathartic.
Do Luke and the Ruffians lament this life? Not quite, but as the chorus of "Let Me Get It Out" goes, they've got something between their ears — let them get it out. Who knew disillusionment could sound so good? (Paper Bag)