Born Ruffians, a nascent Toronto trio, move with mesmerizing twitch, shouting with childish abandon, as if they were Hot Hot Heat stuck in an elevator with the Go! Team. Frontman Luke Lalonde's guitar tone is thin and shrill, switching between jagged Pixies pulses and more lugubrious indie noodling, like that of Built to Spill. His boyish tenor croon flits acrobatically above the music, sounding very much like Isaac Brock when not joined by the backing vocals of his mates. With guitar used primarily for accent, the rhythm section really steers, particularly drummer Steven Hamelin, who can hit the shit out of his kit but generally adheres to a somewhat spare aesthetic. Lalonde's high-energy vocal gymnastics complement the herky-jerky rhythms, with the shouted choruses and brief melodious phrases providing a tensionless counterpoint. While Born Ruffians nicely distill the aforementioned influences into some effortlessly catchy rock, they're still in the process of forging a distinct personality. This prevents their debut (Red, Yellow, Blue) from being a real triumph, as the nervy, heart-pumping sound begins to wear and fray over the course of an entire album. Still, it's a promising start, stocked with hooks and assurance.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.