At the heart of this Canadian trio's sound, the inimitable Jonathan Richman holds court, infusing the Ruffians’ lyrics with his own brand of lovelorn poetry: “Your smile, my smile/Our faces mash a while;” “Won't you please be mine, love / Won't you come outside?” and “’Life sucks and love is dumb’/Golly, that's a real lie,” are sung by Ruffian Luke Lalonde with equal parts distress and persuasion. The sweetly anthemic “Red Yellow & Blue” drips with lush reverb, Lalonde’s vocals uncannily evoking those of Panda Bear, but moving on to the ragged, folky “Badonkadonkey” and the fluttering, hiccupy “Hummingbird,” the spare, abrupt rhythms and breezy arrangements call to mind Vampire Weekend. A few tracks feel inspired by the clanging guitars and jittery vibe of Modest Mouse, such as “Foxes Mate for Life” which starts out deceptively wobbly and wispy. All that aside, this is fun and fresh music, with some strong original moments, too, such as the lovely, acoustic “Little Garçon” and the nearly a capella “Kurt Vonnegut,” where the band’s talent for playful background vocals and chorus arrangements (both shouted and sung) steal the show.
Red, Yellow & Blue
I Need a Life
Foxes Mate for Life
In a Mirror
Hummingbird (Acoustic) [Recorded Live at XM Studio, Toronto]