Born Ruffians

When it comes to musical simplicity, is there a more perfect, primary triumvirate than guitar, drums and bass? The guitar flares with warning; the cymbals and snares flash in the heat of panic; the bass drops anchor in the depths. Toronto trio Born Ruffians (not a gruff group, it should be noted) uses these three instruments to channel Violent Femmes via Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with bits of Modest Mouse and the Dismemberment Plan. Unlike the en vogue ensembles that have come from the 44th parallel in recent years, they balance jumpy and carefully measured angles like a tripod, trading yelps over nonchalant interplay.

Red, Yellow & Blue is less sloppy than the Ruffians' debut, but not necessarily any less adolescent (that's not totally a bad thing). Squirrelly harmonies and herky-jerky instruments just stake a more assured claim on familiar terrain. No matter how endearing it all turns out, there is only so much that can be done with the three primary instruments as-is. But to kids with fierce imaginations, there's something empowering in the amateurish, and Red, Yellow & Blue is truly populist pop, full of jaunty sing-alongs for teething indie rawkers.


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