Born Ruffians are a trio of young whippersnappers from Toronto and are definitely one of the most straight ahead “Indie rock” bands on Warp Records. As a preview to their forthcoming full-length, they’ve released a handy little three-song EP called Hummingbird. That’s cute. In fact, “cute” is the perfect descriptors for Born Ruffians. They are exactly the kind of band I would be into if I were 14-years old right now. I’d also have a poster of Zac Efron on my wall, but that’s beside the point.
Hummingbird is exactly the kind of EP that gets you jazzed for a new band. It’s short (just three tracks, one of which is a cover), sweet, fast, catchy and fun. There’s so much potential packed in just three tracks that I’m alternately excited that their forthcoming LP will be jam packed with catchy Indie rock and concerned that they used up all their good mojo for these three songs. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Things kick off with “Hummingbird,” and if the song sounds familiar, then you’re not the only one thinking that. Singer/guitarist Luke LaLonde sounds remarkably like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth; it’s a little disconcerting. These boys have clearly formed their band in the post-Pitchfork world and they wear their influences on their sleeves: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Modest Mouse, Talking Heads, Pixies, etc. But there’s something so loveable about these guys that you forgive them and understand that they’re still young. There’s a long way for them to go.
“Kurt Vonnegut” is the track that blows “Hummingbird” out of the water and Born Ruffians’ potential is its most palpable here. Drummer Steve Hamelin keeps a mean beat throughout this high energy standout. In fact, it’s their rhythm section of Hamelin and bassist Mitch DeRosier that is presented as this band’s secret weapon. They’re bouncy and pretty much note-perfect. “Kurt Vonnegut” goes off-center as it veers away from the rock and tries it’s hand at something a bit more epic. The repeated refrain of “won’t you come outside?” and the accompanying “ohhs” is just charming and gives the song more weight.
Rounding out the EP is the 107th cover of Grizzly Bear’s “Knife.” Oh don’t get me wrong, the song is pretty awesome but as far as covers of “Knife” goes, this is pretty straightforward. It’s tightly executed and has a little swagger (or about as much swagger teenagers can have) but is no match for the brooding original.
Hummingbird, with any luck, may prove to be a great indicator of what will be on their full-length: tight, buoyant, catchy songs. Born Ruffians show a great deal of promise and, one would hope, can only sharpen their skills as they get older. Right now though, they’re the perfect alternative for the young folks. While the more seasoned listeners might think they’re a little too derivative of their influences, they owe it to themselves to at least give Born Ruffians a chance.