By: Sarah Moore
The Ruby Suns marry DIY sound with grand-scale layers of pop harmonies in their recent release, Sea Lion (Sub Pop). Frontman Ryan McPhun (seriously, that's his name) moved to New Zealand from California, and after a brief stint in The Brunettes formed The Ruby Suns. The multi-layered synths create a mix that recalls Animal Collective; yet they play with the catchy freak folk gusto of Akron/Family. All of this sits against the album's heart of 1960s dream pop.
One can't help but notice the Mexican fiesta overtones, as from the first track they appear amidst found sounds and manipulated synthesizers. "Blue Penguin" begins with phone rings, reverberating spoken samples and a general mist of background noise as guitars inch their way along. The teasing continues until 1:45 into the song, whereupon gigantic guitar strums and a crackling, crunching beat support dissonant vocal harmonies. Soon a clattering of dishes and perhaps shards of glass create a wind chime effect. The track leads into "Oh, Mojave," another traditional Mexican-sounding composition accompanied by subtle, grisly electronic noises. Hazy falsetto harmonies a la Pet Sounds sluggishly follow a Mexican beat mimicking handclaps. The song might as well have been a ranchera written in the 1800s as an ode to the great desert. While the fiesta vibe continues in other selections, this mood is not the only trick up the Suns' sleeves.
"There Are Birds" starts with cave-drippings that are joined by buzzing guitars and a female angelic voice (Amee Robinson) meditating with elongated soprano phrasing. The refrain begins as Robinson's voice drifts into a smattering of electronic drum beats and two drumsticks clinking: this, friends, is perhaps one of the hippest moments in sound this year.
JamBase | New Zealand
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