20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews The Ruby Suns’ Fight Softly by JohnCassillo
March 2, 2010, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , ,

The Ruby Suns' Fight Softly is too overwhelming for its own good

PREVIEW: VISIT The Ruby Suns’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

Maybe The Ruby SunsFight Softly could have been seen through a different lens had it been released before Yeasayer‘s Odd Blood last month, rather than after it. The two albums possess loads of commonalities–from wacky, crowded arrangements, to a world-sound approach, to a sense of almost-overwhelming sprawl. Yet, in all of that, Yeasayer’s theme seems to ring through loud and clear. While The Ruby Suns’ theme, on the other hand, gets muddled by the pure weight of the ambition attached to the project.

The main culprits of Fight Softly‘s undoing are perpetual sameness, repetition and an all-you-can-eat instrumental mentality. The bubbly, fragmented intro “Sun Lake Rinsed” isn’t all that different from closer “Olympics on Pot,” nor any of the other tracks. Even when it drifts away from the stale, overdone formula of two-part rise and fall, it still trips itself up. “Haunted House,” while different, comes off as more of a hackneyed tribute to of Montreal than anything else. It’s a disastrous issue, to say the least.

There are, of course, enough positive moments here to warrant a few spins of the record. Single “Cranberry” breaks out into a gorgeous tribal pop melody, that’s cavernous and loud, yet highly relaxing. The sparkling “Closet Astrologer” is a triumphant, mellow hymnal that exercises enough restraint to set it apart amidst a collection which shows very little in that regard.

Instead of stressing the superior arrangements that populate the background of Fight Softly, the meandering, deliberate repetition pummels listeners to the mount of distraction. Unfocused, and seemingly without any semblance of order, it becomes a challenge to truly appreciate what’s going on.

There is certainly a lot to like on Fight Softly from an instrumental standpoint. When a song is locked in, you’re well aware of the fact, and can be accordingly attentive. However, these moments become the exception instead of the rule– ultimately offering up more to dislike than like on what becomes a disappointing record f0r The Ruby Suns.

–John Cassillo

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