Music Review: RUFF by Born Ruffians (2015)

Release: 2 October 2015
Release: 2 October 2015

Born Ruffians are nothing if not consistent. Everything Luke Lalonde touches seems to turn to gold in my opinion. Before popping in the newest Born Ruffians release I was a little hesitant. In the back of my mind I had this worry that this album would be a step downhill. I don’t what it was that was telling me this, but I put off listening to it for quite awhile. Once I finally worked up the courage to give it a spin I realized how silly my worries were. RUFF is another great addition to the Born Ruffians and Luke Lalonde catalogue.

I find this album to be a slight departure back towards their origin. RUFF has a much rougher sound, something similar to their debut Red, Yellow & Blue. It doesn’t achieve nearly as much as the debut, but it is still quite good. There are more forgettable songs than ever for them, but at the same time it features some of their best tracks ever. Many of the tracks are an improvement to the last release Birthmarks and feature a big step away from their electronic influences. The rougher more garage rock-y sound is much more listenable than Birthmarks (which I did enjoy immensely). The whole album comes across as a really fun experience.

The Tracks:

“Don’t Live Up” – This opener tells a tale. Right from the start you can hear their first EP. They are returning to an earlier sound and they are just as good as ever. “Don’t Live Up” is incredibly infectious and feels like such a natural Born Ruffians song that it is hard to believe it hasn’t existed for years.

“Stupid Dream” – The second track is a step up in emotion. It is incredibly fun and memorable. “Stupid Dream” is a sign that Born Ruffians best work may still be ahead of them. Not only is this rockier and jauntier tune one of the best songs on the album, it is also one of my favorite Born Ruffians song ever.

“Yawn Tears” – Right from the start of their career, Born Ruffians proved their mastery over both fast fun indie rock and slow yet catchy ballads. “Yawn Tears” has the possibility to growing into one of these ballads, but just isn’t good enough. The second half of the song picks up in speed and quality, but still it is one of their weaker songs.

“Don’t Worry Now” – Track 4 is almost completely forgettable. It is extremely repetitive and short, but its length makes it more tolerable. I do wonder why it was included on the album at all.

“When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away” – This track sounds like another attempt at the Red, Yellow & Blue sound. It is fun, but not as good as anything on their debut. After a promising start with the first two tracks, the 3rd through 5th fit in well with my initial worries.

“& On & On & On” – Instead of sounding like a rehash of album 1, this track sounds more at home on the recent Birthmarks. It is, however, as good as anything on Birthmarks. I find myself humming this one on & on & on. It makes the name quite fitting. It is a really fun and catchy track that picks up the albums quality after a few disappointments.

“Fuck Feelings” – This track sound incredibly unique for them. It starts off slow and builds a little. Though it lacks the catchy-ness of most Born Ruffians ballads this one brings something unique to the table. It has a more classic indie rock sound that is completely unexpected from them.

“Eat Shit (We Did It)” – With this track they pick up the jauntyness again. They bring back in their infectious behavior and produce a simple and incredibly lovable track. While not the strongest on the album, “Eat Shit (We Did It)” is a lot of fun.

“We Made It” – This might be the highlight of the album. It sounds like a classic Born Ruffians single. The best thing is it is just as good as their greats. “We Made It” and “Stupid Dream” are in competition for my favorite Born Ruffians tracks ever.

“Let Me Get It Out” – This is another really strong and memorable track. It has a stronger rock influence than some others, but this isn’t a bad thing. It is a fairly diverse sounding track that does a good job of showing off Born Ruffians various skills.

“Shade To Shade” – This is a pleasant enough track. It isn’t very memorable or fun, but works well as a sleepy closer. It isn’t really worth an independent listen outside the context of the album.

At the close of the album I must say that I am more than happy. I have no doubts that I will be coming back to listen to RUFF for years to come. It is a great addition to the Born Ruffians discography. If you like them, it is a must. If you don’t know them, it is a must. If you hate them, maybe give it a try. I think this album has something enjoyable for everyone. Its not perfect and not their best work so I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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