Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Track Review: Born Ruffians - Needle

In 2011, I walked in on Born Ruffians performing "Hummingbird" live at Summer Sundae Weekender 2011. Part of the reason Summer Sundae has been cancelled for 2013 is down to the lack of music listeners in the midlands. It was a stage they shared with Shonen Knife, organised by I was wandering around outside when I started to hear an escalating bass riff and just thought to myself 'Born Ruffians' - I was correct. And the audience? Listening to The Bees on the main stage. Regardless of how shit the Summer Sundae audience were, Born Ruffians still put on a great show, even if they were on the rising stage. Born Ruffians are one of the few alternative / rock artists on Warp Records. If you know Warp, you'll know their history and that most of their artists come from an electronic background, Born Ruffians are a sort of Canadian exception to this. Then you have Maximo Park, a mistake if you ask me.

"Needle" is the first track to be released from Born Ruffians upcoming third album Birthmarks. It follows the New Year’s Day treat "With Her Shadow". In many ways it's a return to form. I'm among the many critics that felt a little let down by their sophomore album Say It. Part of this was down to how excellent and unique (among Kaiser Chiefs, Babyshambles, Two Door Cinema Club etc.) their debut album Red, Yellow & Blue is. Birthmarks should be a mellow album with a stronger focus on lyricism and melody rather than a hook. "Needle" is middle ground, it's everything Born Ruffians is in one three minute scoop. Lead vocalist Luke Lalonde sings: "I belong to no one, a song without an album," a beautiful lyric, with the vocal wrapped in reverb. They haven’t done harmonies on this level before, it's an interesting move and creates an interesting sound. Think Vampire Weekend with a little more experience and balls.

Birthmarks is released in April but the hype starts now. Born Ruffians aren’t the most successful or popular of bands, and they're hardly recognised on the festival circuit even after putting 110% in to their performances. I like "Needle", as much as I’ve enjoyed "Hummingbird" over the years. The Canadian quartet return to the scene, years after never quite making the scene, I'd like them to stay there.

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