While the last album (2010’s Say It) by Canadian indie scenesters Born Ruffians received lackluster reviews citing emotional immaturity, their latest, Birthmarks benefits from the very youthful exuberance their first was criticized for. Birthmarks presents 12 tracks of bouncy pop that has all the bubbly veracity of Vampire Weekend without the pretension.
The album as a whole is catchy and cohesive by largely sticking to the 3 minute song formula. It makes heavy use of reverbed vocals and twanging guitar riffs. Lyrically, the songs all have a meandering quality that really captures the carefree identity of a group of 20-somethings. Tracks “Needle,” “6-500” and “Dancing on the Edge of Our Graves” are the strongest examples of their happy, youthful sound. This is a departure from their earlier work in that it is more polished and cohesive. They still bring the crazy, however, with experimental sounds in “Rage Flows” and “Cold Pop.” Interestingly, despite their obvious youth, songs such as “Dancing on the Edge of Our Graves” and “Never Age” take on more somber themes of existential quandaries not normally tackled by a band just jamming. This is definitely a good sign for their continued development as songwriters working on introspection.
The band’s name choice is especially well-suited to their music – they are a lively bunch of young rapscallions having a ball making music together. Birthmarks is a solid step up from their earlier endeavors and provides a good jumping off point for the next phase of their musical careers.