Album Review: The Ruby Suns - Christopher

12 February 2013 | 4:08 pm | Tess Ingram

Not a terrible album but not an overly listenable one either.

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Truly great artists evolve and try new things to expand their horizons while remaining true to their sound. When successful, the result can be breathtaking, like Bat For Lashes' The Haunted Man. But it's a fragile process and if unsuccessful, well, it might sound something like Christopher.

Bandleader Ryan McPhun seems to have abandoned the world beat and psych-pop sounds of the group's previous records for a largely unambitious electro-dance album that is neither electronic nor danceable. Christopher favours production techniques rather than actual songcraft and overwhelms the listener with ten very similar, frankly boring tracks that use the exact same sonic template.

McPhun does not have the lyrical darkness or vocal grit to carry this break-up album and the result is more needy and annoying than heartbroken. There are a couple of standout tracks buried deep within Christopher's narcissistic, whingeing ego. Dramatikk, Futon Fortress and Starlight do hold some appeal but poor sequencing leaves you mindlessly bored by the time you get to them and wondering why you put yourself through the trip there.

Christopher is an unfortunate misstep for The Ruby Suns and a missed opportunity for the band to capitalise on its growing appeal. Their first three albums showed potential for The Ruby Suns to join the likes of Animal Collective and Architecture In Helsinki within the ranks of the psych-pop elite but this record reached too far for pop stardom and fell a long way short. Not a terrible album but not an overly listenable one either.

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