Sea Lion, the new album from New Zealand's The Ruby Suns, bursts with imagery from the natural world. Classic summery pop tunes are appealingly coupled with a dizzying breadth of musical styles from African and Polynesian folk music, to flamenco, to eighties synth pop, to Disney movie soundtracks. Everything's underpinned by a style reminiscent of US indie experimentalists Animal Collective, early Mercury Rev and Olivia Tremor Control. It's an album that'll charm the birds from the trees, invite them in for a cup of tea and teach 'em to talk.
The Ruby Suns' current live line up is 24 year old lead singer/songwriter and Californian expat Ryan McPhun, New Zealand native Amee Robinson. The bands' first self titled album was originally released locally in 2005 on Auckland based indie Lil' Chief (home of the Brunettes amongst others) and in 2006 on Memphis Industries in the UK. Subsequent critical acclaim led to tours in the USA, UK, NZ and Australia variously with The Shins, Animal Collective and Field Music.
In early 2007 the band signed to Sub Pop for the USA while agreeing to continue their fruitful relationship with Memphis Industries in the UK. They put the finishing touches to their next album in a variety of locations in New Zealand and Australia with sound effects culled from Ryan's dictaphone travels round NZ, Oz, Africa, USA and Europe.
Sea Lion is a hugely inventive album, each song bursting with colour and glorious, summery vibes. The lyrical influences are direct ones referencing Ryan's experiences in Africa (see Ole Rinka - the name of one of Ryan's Maasai mates - Its Mwangi In Front of Me - Ryan shooting the breeze on Mount Kenya with a guy called Mwangi - and of course the punning Kenya Dig It?), New Zealand (Tane Mahuta - named after one of New Zealand's oldest trees - and Adventure Tour - detailing a rainy trip to the South Island) and California (Oh, Mojave). Whilst the first album's musical hat was firmly tilted toward the Wilson brothers, Sea Lion goes walkabout with a rucksack full of ideas, revealing a joy for the natural world that'd put Attenborough to shame.
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