Ruth Ruth

Are You My Friend?

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    3
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New York band Ruth Ruth's Are You My Friend? is an occasionally likable, mostly uninspired set of punk-pop and power pop tunes. The opener, "Condition," is derivative of Blue Sky on Mars-era Matthew Sweet -- in fact, parts of it are strikingly similar to Sweet's "Where You Get Love." The group is at its best when cultivating its more melodic side, as in the strong (if somewhat nonsensical) "Her From Planet Fur" or the aforementioned "Condition." When Ruth Ruth tries to grunge things up and rock out, as in "Think! Anatomic" or "Chemical Peel," the results can be somewhat grating. The songwriting is also weak at times, particularly on shallow efforts like "If I Can't Have You," "Ponies," and "Kaboom" (apparently a relationship song that includes the winning lyric "Kaboom/Went your head like a water balloon/I'm free"). Shortly after this album, guitarist Michael Kotch would become a member of Lloyd Cole's backing group the Negatives.

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