If only all albums were like this, clocking in at little over a quarter of an hour in total and therefore leaving the listener little time to get bored but wondering where those 15 minutes disappeared to. Then wishing they could be replayed, time and time again.
Which of course, they can, if they were to make this their next purchase.
And yet, looking at the band's name and the sleeve of this record, a totally different image is conjured up in an instant. With a name like Born Ruffians, who honestly would have expected these to be anything other than the latest bunch of Camden art students going through their Libertines/Strokes phase, three chords, torn leather jackets and all. I suppose the photo of what seems to be the perfect lookalike of a young Kim Deal on the sleeve should have given the game away more than the band's unfortunate moniker but what the hell.
Prejudices aside, this album - or six-track EP as it says on the label - is a breath of fresh air. I proves, if anything, that Canada really is fast emerging as being a serious birthplace to skewed, disjointed guitar strewn pop music.
Yep, you read that last bit right. Born Ruffians are actually three Canadians, and they make indie-pop in a traditional sense that old-school collectors of 4AD and Sub Pop's early roster would raise more than an eyebrow at. In a similar vein to fellow XL artists Tapes'n Tapes, they owe a large debt to the likes of Pixies and Buffalo Tom, yet at no point does this record sound retro or plagiaristic.
Opener 'This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life' judders along, handclaps and screaming howls in all the right places, like an outtake from Surfer Rosa, while the downbeat 'Hedonistic Me' is half self-pity/half self-reverence as lead 'Ruffian Luke LaLonde declares "I have a knack for anything that uses my back." Extraordinary.
Elsewhere, 'I'm One Of Those Girls' has a pop at someone most of us has met once upon a time, i.e. that member of the opposite sex who flashes a smile, flutters an eyelid, lets you ply them with drinks before dumping you like an empty McDonald's wrapper before you can say,_ "Back to mine or yours?". _'Merry Little Fancy Things' meanwhile must be the only song that mixes flamenco guitar licks with eccentric mathrock breakdowns.
As a prelude to the world of Born Ruffians, this record is an essential addition to anyone's collection. Just don't expect any prog-rock opera's just yet.
8Dom Gourlay's Score