The Ruby Suns: Christopher (Sub Pop)

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The Ruby Suns: Starlight
The Ruby Suns: Christopher (Sub Pop)

While in some parts of the Unknown Mortal Orchestra album they embrace a whiff of gentle psychedelia (and has no one noticed McCartney melodies in their mix?), this is a territory which the Ruby Suns have long found seductive and enchanting.

And over their first two albums they certainly managed to couple an assured sense of pop with seductive and often enchanting songs. There were diminished results on their third, Fight Softly.

This time out however, despite the electro-punctations on songs like the overly busy Rush, they just sound bloodless and more seduced by the technology itself than using it to seduce.

Many of these anodyne songs have neither grip nor traction and although we concede attractive surfaces the impression is of only surface in many places. They come like a rather watery Blue Nile on shapeless songs like Jump In where again electro-splash and wobble fill some of the gaps. Starlight takes you back to the Eighties but in neither an ironic nor inspired way.

Singer/writer Ryan McFun increasingly broadcasts in a very narrow melodic range and while that weightlessness is undeniably pleasant but on song after song it starts to lack substance. By the final song when he sings "every day is the same" you get an overwhelming sense of a room chock full of ennui, albeit with nice wallpaper.

In good news there are a few fine songs here -- Desert of Pop about meeting Swedish pop sensation Robyn starts things in fine electro-pop fashion, there's a pretty song in Futon Fortress but it seems suffocated by its reliance on synths and so lost in this all-so-similar company  -- and doubtless that might be enough to contain their very loyal fan base.

But as one who previously counted himself in that group I'm starting to wonder about renewing my subscription. 

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