Album Review: The Ruby Suns – Fight Softly

By on Monday, 15th February 2010 at 2:00 pm

I know next to nothing about New Zealand, except that the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies were filmed there. But if the Ruby Suns‘s latest album ‘Fight Softly’ was the country’s guidebook, surely the sunniest skies are up ahead. (I say this sarcastically as I look out my window where foot upon foot of snow still sits unmelted by my door.) It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere right now, don’t you know?

Perhaps an apéritif on the veranda is in order. Imagine pouring the synths and assorted electronics from Sam Eastgate’s best choones from Late of the Pier, the psychedelic licks of MGMT, and a few drops of sick beats from Simian Mobile Disco into a cocktail shaker. Shake the contents vigourously and pour into a tall, slinky, sexy glass and you have some idea of what ‘Fight Softly’ sounds like.

The album is filled with fun moments. As its title suggests, ‘Cinco’ is a Latin-infused dance-a-thon. According to a press release, the song is about singer/songwriter Ryan McPhun’s troubles with his studio’s landlord; perhaps the landlord is Latino? Tracks ‘Cranberry’, ‘How Kids Fail’ and ‘Dusty Fruit’ continue the joyous dance party with tribal beat, marching band, Carnival atmosphere. And I dare you not to moonwalk to the groove in ‘Haunted House.’

Swirling instrumentation and finger-snapping swagger provide a great backdrop to McPhun’s starry-eyed falsetto in ‘Closet Astrologer’, about a mate’s preoccupation with astrologic divination. The last track, the humourously named ‘Olympics on Pot’, closes out the album, the electrobeats in its middle section worthy of the hottest dancefloors. I hope this one gets put out as a single because it deserves the limelight.

But in case you think this is only for the club-going public, ‘Fight Softly’ is also the kind of album that sounds especially good on headphones, because you can hear all the different layers of sounds McPhun has lovingly stacked one on top of another to create each sonic masterpiece. I have but two complaints with the album. One, McPhun’s vocals are made so ethereal with the production, they get lost in the mix. And two, to the casual listener who isn’t paying close enough attention, a couple of the songs sound too similar and have similar vibes.

But these are minor criticisms. While we on the East Coast of America wait impatiently for the spring thaw, tunes like these from the Ruby Suns are most welcome. Further, with these new songs now in their arsenal, I reckon this band’s live sets will be nothing short of searing. Do yourself a favour and check this album out when it’s released next month on Memphis Industries.

MP3: The Ruby Suns – Cranberry



‘Fight Softly’, the Ruby Suns’s third album, will be released on 08 March by Memphis Industries. The single ‘Cranberry’ will be released on 01 March, ahead of the album.

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