[Album Review] Born Ruffians // Uncle, Duke & The Chief

Canadian indie rockers Born Ruffians are set to take 2018 by storm. While they’ve not announced any dates for a tour down under, they have announced a huge North American tour before heading over to Europe for some dates later this year. On top of that they’re set to drop their newest album, Uncle, Duke & The Chief, later this month. The album sports the bands earlier release, Love Too Soon, as well as their single Forget Me, but these two are slot in-between some other massive tunes.

The album opens with Forget Me, which is the perfect way to kick off the action. The bands last single, it opens with acoustic guitars that have an amazing spread and envelope the listener. This spacious feeling is backed up by the washed out, but still energetic, lead vocals. Layers enter the song with finesse, with infectious clapping and an organ sound near the end that cuts deep. The super catchy chorus and unique bridge make the song an absolute hit, and with 25 thousand views on YouTube already it is sure to be a big song for the band.

Blending straight from Forget Me is the second song, Miss You. The band recently (as in last Thursday) put up a killer video for Miss You and it’s safe to say that the bands latest single is one of the most energetic on the album. The force of the song as the whole band kicks in is hard to ignore and the energy pushes into the chorus. A post-chorus drop keeps the listener on their toes before an even more intense second verse. Again the song takes an unexpected turn into the next chorus, and the song rounds off with it’s sing-a-long worthy hook.

The cool jazz sensations come through immediately with the third song; Side Tracked. The driving force in this song is the tone, and the band have got it down packed. With some perfect vocal lines, catchy bass line, and the constant chilled vibes it might not be a single, but this slow burner is a good damn song.

The Ruffians again take another turn, with Fade To Black being a return to some energetic pop sounds. Being pushed along by a strong bass part, the song never seems to drag, despite being one of the longer songs on the album. A bold dynamic shift in the bridge keeps things interesting, and while a floor tom through the verses is a bit off-putting it isn’t enough to ruin this killer tune.

The first single off the album, Love Too Soon, is an amazing continuation of the vibes from this album. Whistling and heavy reverb make another appearance, and the twist and turns continue with an organ appearing out of nowhere after the first verse. The melody is the strongest of the album and the slow build up of this pop ballad is executed without error. Clearly a standout track, both on and off the album, Love Too Soon is one that will be entering heavy rotation in many listeners ears.

The next song, Spread So Thin, may be the best song on the album. A little dissonance at the start is a new idea for the album, and add to a more intricate feeling than anything so far. Listeners will be sucked into the lyrics for this song and a Britpop vibe is a move away from the tone of the other songs. The song does a lot to add interest to the album and has a few turns of its own; the first chorus is super energetic, but the second feels almost like a bridge. There’s a definite switch between the verse and chorus, and the thick texture never becomes overpowering. While this isn’t the song to get a complete snapshot of the album from, like Love Too Soon, it definitely is the song that you should check out if you listen to no other on the album.

The next two songs are Tricky and Ring That Bell. Tricky is the most bold song on the album, with more left of field elements than any other, with huge shifts in dynamics and energy and a guitar solo that is truly puzzling. Ring That Bell adds in a big pop element, with a Strawberry Fields like mood, and still creates a lot of interest with some exciting turns. The distorted bell sounds are a very nice touch at the end of the song.

The album ends on a bit of a sour note. Last song Working Together is a good song, but not Born Ruffians at their best. The song is neither upbeat, nor chilled out, but an odd mx of both. While this is an interesting idea and many might find it attractive, it didn’t quite fit the rest of the album to this reviewer. By no means does this ruin the album at all, but it is an odd choice to end an album with so many interesting twists and turns, and genuinely fantastic songs.

Uncle, Duke & The Chief is an amazing album, for fans of Ballpark Music’s more relaxed songs, that has some incredible tunes that listeners will feel genuine need to add to their playlists as they wait for Australian tour dates to finally come.

Check out Born Ruffians’ new album Uncle, Duke & The Chief out February 16th from Paper Bag Records.

– Josh Mills