Born Ruffians - Red, Yellow & Blue (Cover Artwork)

Born Ruffians

Red, Yellow & Blue (2008)


Why this hasn't been reviewed yet, I don't know, but Red, Yellow & Blue is one of the best albums of far. After the recent hullabaloo of Vampire Weekend's cover of Rancid's "Ruby Soho," I was forced to reconsider my previously held views on the relationship between punk rock and indie rock. Can the two styles co-exist, or are they at odds with each other? Born Ruffians are the living DNA test that proves that punk rock and indie rock are biological brothers and not just resentful step-siblings.

The name of the album in question is Red, Yellow & Blue, the three primary colors, the three most essential colors in the spectrum and the basis for each and every known color in existence. This ode to simplicity rings true of Born Ruffians' sound. Punk rock, from its inception, was always about simplicity. It erupted out of a movement of people who were fed-up with the worthless displays of technical wizardry that were dominating mainstream rock music in the 1970s. Being good at an instrument wasn't a bad thing, but writing a good two-minute song was more important than some preposterous 12-minute keyboard solo. And that's exactly how Born Ruffians operate.

Upon listening to Red, Yellow & Blue, it is impressive to see how much the Toronto trio accomplishes with so little. There's not even that much distortion used at all, if any. The opening track, "Red, Yellow & Blue" is a decent intro for the album, but the party really gets started on track 2, "Barnacle Goose." While their guitar sound may be clean, Born Ruffians are not afraid to crack their voices shouting (like in the awesome final 12 seconds of "Barnacle Goose"), and the album is fraught with rough edges.

The party I mentioned earlier continues with the bouncy "Hummingbird." This song demonstrates why I think that Born Ruffians should take the trophy away from Against Me! for "Best Use of Background Vocals." "I Need a Life," the next track, starts out slow but quickly erupts into a party sing-along with riotous chants of "Oh, but we go out at night!"

The band slows it down a bit for the highlight track of the album, "Foxes Mate for Life." At four-and-a-half minutes, it is the second-longest song on the album. As a whole, it benefits from the buildup of the elongated intro, but slides right into plucky guitars and chirpy vocals, and of course, fun gang vocals.

"Hedonistic Me" is a re-recording of the second track from the band's self-titled EP and, despite a little more production, still shines as a perfect example of Born Ruffians' brand of pop. I cannot stress how wonderful the overlapping vocals are on this album and this song definitely showcases them.

With their second full-length, Say It, on the way, I highly recommend giving Red, Yellow & Blue a listen. Punks should enjoy the rough edges and rowdy vocals, while Indie rockers should enjoy the album's perfect pop. Don't waste your time with Vampire Weekend because Born Ruffians are the real deal.