‘I got love for you if you were born in the 80’s’. Perhaps I dismissed Calvin Harris’s words a bit prematurely a few years ago, when what I should have done is regard them as the words of a prophet: love for the 80’s seems to be springing up all over the shop. Outfits like Chromatics, Friendly Fires and Handsome Furs, whose sound and style are heavily indebted to the decade-that-dare-not-speak-its-name, are thriving and cultivating a widespread appeal. And dare I say it, it’s great. It’s fun, stylish and shamelessly indulgent. Into this foray comes The Ruby Suns’s Christopher, which takes their already infectious melodies and submerges them in 80’s influenced synths.
Christopher dives straight into rich, shimmering depths with album opener Desert of Pop, a love song for Scandinavian pop temptress Robyn. The influence of main-stay Ryan McPhun’s decampment to Oslo, Norway in late 2010 is immediately apparent as energetic dance beats and euphoric vocals take hold. The icy synths on display throughout Christopher are reminiscent of Air and The Knife, but the melodies are a lot warmer and evoke sunny days and white beaches more than cold fjords.
McPhun clearly has an ear for strong pop melodies and In Real Life has that peculiar mark of quality in that I feel like I’ve heard it before. It has that classic 80’s electro-pop feel to it, yet it sounds utterly contemporary which has had it rattling around my head for days. Meanwhile, Rush is a sprawling, ambient gem that perfectly captures the feeling of long and relaxing summer nights. The album’s centerpiece, Kingfisher Call Me, is sure to end up on some ‘Best Single’ lists when it comes to the year’s end as it is an indelibly crafted slice of electro-pop that engulfs the listener. Saturated synths and cavernous drums create a big aural space in which McPhun’s woozy vocals float in and out. It also has a kick-ass synth solo to boot. Arguably though, my favourite track would have to be Jump In which is catchy, atmospheric and uplifting and has a lot in common with bands like New Order and Tears For Fears..
Unfortunately, the album tends to lose steam towards the end. A few of the tracks start to sound similar and the individual character of some songs gets washed out amidst the waves of synths. There also seems to be less of the world-music influence that made The Ruby Suns music so unique and enjoyable. For all this grumbling though, Christopher remains a fun and summery collection of infectious electro-pop that’s sure to brighten even the cloudiest day.
Christopher will be released on 29th January through Sub Pop.