Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Ruby Suns - Sea Lion (2008)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

While the shifting swirl of voices in the first half of "Morning Sun" or the hissing, half-asleep swayer, "Blue Penguin" suggests more lo-fi origins, this exterior conceals the hi-fi mentality abound in Sea Lion. "There Are Birds", for example, sets itself up to be a simple buzzing pop tune, but then makes a right turn into a multi-layered funhouse carnival section. The percussion that opens "Tane Mahuta" sounds like it's all silverware and tin cans, but then the song reveals a musical sophistication that would make Brian Wilson blush, it's main melody becoming supplemented by all manners of Pacific Islander, African, and Hawaiin originated instruments. And "Kenya Dig It?" is the kind of Pet Sounds-worthy flawless creation that you'd expect to only be attempted in a high-end studio; it's structure brilliantly ebbs from a downpour of phaser mist draping a heavenly harmony into an elaborate shifting of styles and back to the beginning, before side-stepping into a gorgeous shoegazer outro. As a matter of fact, the weakest parts of the album are sections that become too fractured or bogged down in lo-fi textures (particularly on tracks like the Microphones-esque "It's Mwangi In Front Of Me" or the lifeless "Ole Rinka"). Try as they might to jump on the rugged, garage pop bandwagon, The Ruby Suns work best when they sound exactly how everyone would expect a New Zealand band to sound like: as if they've risen out of an underwater city with Sebastian and the entire Atlantica orchestra behind them.

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