The Killjoys

Ruby

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There was a particular style of U.K. indie music from the early to mid-'80s spearheaded by Everything But the Girl, Prefab Sprout, and pretty much the entire roster of Cherry Red Records that blended folk, bossa nova, jazz, and adult pop influences into an often sublime mixture of acoustic guitars, brushed drums, cocktail piano, and, often, female vocals and vibes. The 1990 full-length debut by Australia's the Killjoys sounds like they've listened to nothing but those albums for years (although the bass riff in the thrilling "Fall Around Me" suggests they've listened to their share of Astrud Gilberto albums as well; it's plainly been nicked from the vocal melody of "The Girl From Ipanema"). Singer Anna Burley has a cool, detached voice that sounds just right over Craig Pilkington's strummy acoustics and muted trumpet. Caroline Schwerkolt's dreamy vibes are the group's other main sonic signature, adding a lovely texture to nearly every song on the album. Burley's lyrics aren't as memorable as the folk-tinged melodies, though the wistful "Michael Told Me" does an admirable job of recalling a lost love without whininess or recrimination. A fantastic debut, Ruby shows that the spirit of twee pop was alive and well between its early-'80s and mid-'90s heydays.

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