Born Ruffians

Red Yellow & Blue

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Red Yellow & Blue's primary colors are an apt metaphor for Born Ruffians' sound: the band sticks mostly to indie rock basics on their debut album, delivering lots of strummy guitars and yelped call-and-response vocals that can trace their roots back to the Pixies and Modest Mouse and through to Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. Songs like "Barnacle Goose," "Kurt Vonnegut" and "I Need a Life" are so quintessentially "indie" that at times, it's hard to hear much unique about them. Then again, the boldness of Red Yellow & Blue -- both the colors and the album -- can't be denied, and Born Ruffians' energy does spark something special occasionally: "Hummingbird" and "Badonkadonkey" are so jubilant and hyperactive, they practically bounce out of speakers. Songs like "Hedonistic Me" show that the band hasn't expanded much since their self-titled debut EP, but the few risks Born Ruffians take pay off. "Red Yellow & Blue" begins the album with a spooky anthem for an imaginary country, complete with distant drumbeats and fife-like whistling, and the band's simplicity and innocence suits "Little Garcon"'s backporch folk jam. Best of all is "Foxes Mate for Life," which fakes out listeners with winsome acoustic guitars and pixilated keyboards before jumping into more of the band's irrepressible rock. Red Yellow & Blue is far from bad -- and fans of the bands mentioned above may find them quite good -- but next time, Born Ruffians should try for the musical equivalent of orange, green, and purple instead.

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