This new album by Born Ruffians sort of came and went earlier this year with barely anyone mentioning it. I'd heard one song from the release ("Hummingbird") and it intrigued me, so I made a mental note of it and then subsequently found that mental noted buried and forgotten under the usual cascade of them. At any rate, I finally stumbled across Red, Yellow, & Blue, and I'm really glad that I did.
It's not a world-changer, but it's certainly one of the more fun pop albums that I've heard this year so far. Released on Warp Records (who are continually expanding their boundaries in a good way), it's probably one of the more straightforward things I've heard from the label in some time (and possibly ever). Technically, it probably falls under the indie rock umbrella, but the trio does some goofy, spastic maneuvers that help keep it fairly interesting.
Like the excellent release from Dodos earlier this year, the group doesn't just write straightforward songs, and they mix a whole lot of hooting and hollering in as well. Album-titled "Red, Yellow And Blue" kicks things off and it's a perfect example as wordless vocal passages mingle with quiet guitars and piano before the song turns a touch more raucous and a triumphant few vocals are sung before it all winds down again. "Barnacle Goose" finds the group getting into full-on goofy mode as the sputtering track builds with frantic guitar, bass and drums while all three members add their bits word-wise. It's slightly geeky, slightly freak-folk, and insanely catchy.
On "Badonkadonkey," the trio sounds a bit like a slightly more straightforward version of Animal Collective, and it's largely due to the somewhat odd rhythmic gait and the layered vocals, but Born Ruffians are definitely carving out their own little space here. The aforementioned "Hummingbird" should have in all likelyhood been on the lips of everyone this spring and summer (and it still might be) as it rifles along with chugging instrumentation and more whooping vocals. If I have one criticism of Red, Yellow & Blue, it's that the last couple songs on the album fall into a bit of an overlong rut as they slow things down a bit (whereas earlier slower songs like "Little Garcon" are quite successful and make for a nice breather), but it's nothing that'd a deal-breaker. I'm glad I finally got around to this one.