Believe it or not there was a time, around the mid-eighties, that if you wanted to hear superlative fulsome pop music then you cast your eyes, or your ears south to New Zealand. Bands like The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats, The Clean, to mention a few notables, were producing album after album of succulent pop/rock music that effortlessly scoured sixties psych pop and west coast harmonic influences. Sadly that is not the case nowadays and that brand of plangent cerebral pop music very rarely surfaces. But wait.... here are The Ruby Suns to usher that sound back into our consciousness and they're from New Zealand too...the portents are good verging on tremendous.
Morphing Beach Boys type harmonies with eclectic and attention-grabbing instrumentation - vibraphone, harmonium, melodica, alto recorder and some saxophone- this is the sort of deeply textured pop music I really really like. Not only does it recall the aforementioned "Flying Nun" bands but recent purveyors of effusive genius like Ooberman, The Hidden Cameras, The Delays and The Wondermints...which sort of brings me back to The Beach Boys who are the most obvious influence.
The songs range from wide screen multi harmonic ditties like "Sleep In The Garden " to magnificent pop treasures like "Masai Mara" to panoramic vista scanning melancholy like "It's Hard To Let You Know". "Criterion" could have come off the Chills genius album "Submarine Bells", it's that good and even the unpromising clatter of "Birthday On Mars" gives way to swaggering infectious pop. The only thing stopping this album being an absolute classic is a couple of ordinary songs and a less than diverting instrumental filler -"Trepidation" Pts 1 & 2 which show a predilection towards un-necessary wackiness. When this band stick to what they are good at- vibrant pop music- that southern (ruby) sun shines bright as ever.
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I just finished playing this import for the 5th or 6th time and I am totally bedazzled by it. It's New Zealand's answer to Pet Sounds. I sure hope Brian Wilson has given this a listen. I find this group a breath of fresh air and I would catagorize it as a "feel good harmonic masterpiece" from start to finish. The harmonies will haunt you and have you journey to the 60's but with a 00's newness. I would say two things (1) I hope they are discovered here in America and (2) run out and find this cd and listen to it in your car, in your bed and every morning when you need a shot of " cheer " - it is the best breakfast treat you had in a long time.