bornruffians

The third album from Toronto’s Born Ruffians kicks off with ‘Needle’, a gorgeously intricate piece of guitar pop that segues Fleet Foxes neo-folk into Tune-Yards-esque Afrobeat with remarkable ease. It showcases the group at their incendiary best, however its mercurial appeal also sets the tone for an album that’s filled to the brim with highs but is ultimately marred by its drawn-out lows. As a slick opening triptych comes to a close with ‘6-5000’ and the beautiful, aching ‘Ocean’s Deep’, it signals the album’s unfortunate descent. At its finest, ‘Birthmarks’ twists and turns unexpectedly, weaving RnB, post-punk and doo-wop into its indie fabric, but it simply doesn’t live up to the sum of its constituent parts, nor the undisputed talent of its creators. Often self-indulgent, it seems outright flippant in parts, while at 43 minutes it can feel painfully bloated.

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