30 January, 2013 in Music Reviews
Ruby Suns main man Ryan McPhun provides fans with a collection of incessantly catchy pop songs on album number four, ‘Christopher’
t’s taken Ruby Suns frontman and songwriter Ryan McPhun – yes, you read his surname right – four albums to arrive at Christopher. Throughout the duration of his Ruby Suns’ career there has been a progression in the style and sound of the band, moving from the indie of the self-titled debut, through the atmospheric psych-pop of Sea Lion and the electronic Fight Softly, to the New Order-esque sound that we find on Christopher.
This reverence for the Manacunian electro-indie pioneers is apparent from the first second of album opener Desert Of Pop, which, to put it simply, is very New Order. This theme of songwriting style remains throughout the album, with each and every track a potential New Order b-side… except perhaps Dramatikk, which sounds eerily like the happy cousin of Joy Division’s classic Atmosphere. It shouldn’t work, but the sense of blissful disconcertion that it evokes makes it one of the finest tracks on Christopher.
“Heart Attack brings things to a close brilliantly”
Further highlights to be found include Kingfisher Call Me, with its calypso undertones; Rush, which recalls the dreaminess of Ruby Suns’ outstanding second album Sea Lion; Starlight, if only for the brilliant keyboard line just before the minute mark. Heart Attack brings things to a close brilliantly. It’s a delicate wave of electronic-pop atmospherics that carries you on ‘little fluffy clouds’ to the album’s conclusion, before ending almost abruptly.
It’s once the final notes have died off that you’re left feeling a little flat. Yes, the songs are great and have the same appreciation for melody and pop sensibility as Ruby Suns’ previous records, but it feels a like a little of the goofiness and naivety has been taken away, replaced by a more overtly mainstream mentality. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the songs on Christopher are, it must be said, ludicrouslyy catchy – you feel a slight pang for the lo-fi pop mentality of the record’s predecessors, for the time when Ruby Suns were your secret pop treasure.
Verdict: Polished, New Order-inspired pop songwriting