By Cole Parker
Paper Bag Records
Born Ruffians are one of many indie rock bands that bubbled up in the mid-2000s. Hailing from small-town, Toronto-adjacent Midland, Ontario, the group draws heavy inspiration from bands like Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire.
The band went through a bit of a change a few years ago with their 2013 album Birthmarks when they parted ways with their original drummer Steve Hamelin and added a second guitarist. It led to a cleaner sound, one that was a little less rough around the edges.
With their fifth studio album Uncle, Duke & The Chief, Hamelin returns and the band shifts back to their grittier sound, recording as a trio.
Born Ruffians seem to produce their best material when that frantic nature comes out in their songwriting. Moments on Uncle, Duke & The Chief sound like drunken eulogizing, with lead vocalist Luke Lalonde rapidly shifting from desperate yelps to sing-along celebratory anthemic shouting.
Catchy choruses, jubilant guitars and an intense earnestness all shine through on the band’s new output, something that’s been lacking from the band’s output since their debut in 2008. The album’s songwriting is strong, strong enough to buoy it above the ocean of albums out there like it.Born Ruffians, Duke & the Chief, Paper Bag Records, Uncle, Uncle Duke & the Chief