Born Ruffians

Uncle, Duke & the Chief

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Uncle, Duke & the Chief marks a long-awaited maturation of sorts for the Canadian indie rock veterans. Teaming with producer Richard Swift, Born Ruffians shave away the adolescent pranks that distinguished 2015's Ruff -- there are no songs called "(Eat Shit) We Did It" or "Fuck Feelings," or any profanity for that matter -- and also decide to streamline their music, minimizing any lingering dance overtones. What's left is an elastic, hooky indie rock filled with quickly strummed guitars and shouted choruses -- along with the occasional melody that harks back to the heyday of the British Invasion -- and while these are the elements of basic indie rock, Swift paints Uncle, Duke & the Chief in intriguing muted colors that make Born Ruffians seem not quite so eager to please. Sometimes, Luke LaLonde's yawp pierces through this stylish murk, as if he's impatient with these mannered arrangements, but this tension also provides a perhaps necessary counterpoint to Born Ruffians' newfound earnestness; it adds color and dimension, keeping the songs from seeming po-faced and giving Uncle, Duke & the Chief just enough jolt to be unpredictable.

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