At the risk of disconnecting entirely, many have followed the dangerous path of Merriweather Post Pavilion
and tried to make a record of tape loop sounding psych-synth that sits pretty on the line between pleasant noise and catchy pop. Some have failed miserably. The advantage has often gone to people who, like Animal Collective, came from a place of mystery to begin with (and a loyal fan-base of their babbling nonsense). The Ruby Suns don't come from such a place, rather they've warped their well-known psych-pop to read more pop-psych... as in a little more backwards, a little more obscured.
The Ruby Suns have slapped a few "what-the?" moments on their constructions, but they seem to come together nicely over the course of the record. Fight Softly
is definitely a derivative work; circular melodies, reverberated refrains, the calling cards of Merriweather
are strewn to the point of a full deck. Track back to December 2008, and no one on any bandwagons would have expected "Cranberry" to gain traction. Now the blend of African melodicism and razor synth sounds like the new decades punk movement; rebellious against American Idol's money machine, the Justin Bieber bastardization of pop (over-simplified, under-sexed), and the abuse of auto-tune on nearly every rap song (but mostly the bad ones). Funny how "hip" bands are pseudo-turning to Africa's latest and greatest (e.g. Amadou & Miriam, The Very Best) for inspiration. This is all subjective thought, of course.
Extrapolating aside, Fight Softly
is, very simply, a fun, busy foray into a darker, more complex Suns. Over-processed into an almost oblivious (but delightful) state, the sprightly drumming of Sea Lion
has been replaced with erratic beats and skimmed vocals. "How Kids Fail" is borderline assault on the ears. But the end result is something a little more enjoyable than the Dickensian prose of Joanna Newsom (which requires Cliffs Notes), a wash where the words don't matter as much as the way they sound with the riffs. And some of the riffs are pretty dope.
By "Olympics On Pot" its clear that The Suns have taken their sound apart and put it back together in a different way. And it's not necessarily better&mdash or worse&mdash just different. Atmospheric on the surface, but drool worthy at the core, the hooks melt like butter, and the synth crunches like toast. It may be a little left field for the band (like pumpernickel toast?), but it's the right sound for the right time. After a few bites, I'm sure you'll be satisfied too. -joe puglisi
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MP3:"Cranberry" (Fight Softly)
The Ruby Suns on Myspace