A decade old and Born Ruffians have grown wise with age. The Canadian indie rock band has taken their time to develop over the years. While some fans look to the early years as the golden age of the band (they really were ruffians back then –and the sound was great), others surely look forward to each new release. Their latest album, RUFF, is certainly more mature and structured in such a way that all the best parts of the band really shine through. RUFF is all you could ask for from the band and then some.
RUFF starts with a smooth, rock opera like tune. “Don’t Live Up,” has a thumping beat and goofy melody accompanied by the occasional horns. Vocalist Luke Lalonde takes on a very interesting change, putting a certain energy into his voice –an indie Freddie Mercury to some extent. The song overall isn’t stellar but is an excellent attention-grabber. The ears become hungry for more and slowly you’re sucked into Born Ruffians slew of catchy new songs.
The album progresses and an interlude begins. “Don’t Worry Now,” is brief, the band settles the mood with a whiny, acoustic melody –this ultimately leads into a very folky track, “When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away.” The guitar chords, deep bass and percussive lines, as well as a slew of interesting additions (including sleigh bells!) create a sloping melody that leaps with fantastic energy. RUFF then progresses into one of the greatest new tracks of the album, “& On & On & On.” In some ways it’s a throwback to the early days when Born Ruffians threw in the more hectic, boisterous song. Crescendos and powerful choruses are what sells it. Almost perfect.
Considering last time I had the honor of discussing Born Ruffians I (in a very friendly, jestful way) gave Luke Lalonde’s voice some particular comments it’s worth throwing in a comment –the man is really learning to rock his unique sound. There really is very few vocalists with a voice like Lalonde’s and RUFF seems to be his most comfortable performance yet. That isn’t to say past releases are somehow bad, but rather Lalonde as a musician is growing in a fantastic way alongside his stellar bandmates.
Vibrance is the trademark of Born Ruffians; their music is a sound based stimulant –it can change you. Interestingly enough, the group does work in a few slightly slower tracks. In particular, “Fuck Feelings,” drifts into some gloomy territory that you would never see coming. The guitar is low and flowing through a grungy melody. The vocals are tired and sad. The chorus gives for a stronger outburst but the repeating main guitar melody and slow melody will bring you down in the best way possible.
Unfortunately everything good has to come to an end and that includes RUFF. Born Ruffians have released an absolutely fantastic album and if you’re an indie fan or a Ruffian fan you need to listen to it. While the band isn’t as nearly as poppy as before, they turned their energy into a something that feels and sounds more meaningful. Regardless of sound, Born Ruffians is and likely always will be fantastic. Listen to RUFF –you’ll love it.