Today’s Sounds: The Ruby Suns

The Ruby Suns’ Christopher is far from your average break-up record, plus a new track by local quintet Young Galaxy and an exclusive video by fellow Montrealers Wake Island (formerly known as Intensive Care).


The Ruby Suns, Christopher (Sub Pop)

I listened to this record all the way through, then I read that it was a break-up album. Really? On the third listen, I still don’t hear it. Guy must be doing okay.

Ryan McPhun comes from Ventura, CA but launched his music career about seven years ago in Auckland, New Zealand. Now, he lives in the considerably less sunny Oslo, Norway. He’s still the touring drummer for Kiwi acts Architecture in Helsinki and Lawrence Arabia, however, and this album’s title is apparently based on an Auckland in-joke — so clearly part of his heart remains in the southern hemisphere.

Despite the region’s dark and cold climate, Scandinavia is a more fitting birthplace for this record than New Zealand. More than McPhun’s three previous Ruby Suns releases, this is a glistening, gleaming pop record, assembled with ’80s/’90s-style synthetic arrangements, coated in a contemporary mix and written with a looseness that leaves wiggle room for experimentation with soundscapes and rhythms — listen to the brilliant “Boy” for a strong example of that. (Miracle Fortress fans will want to check out this new incarnation of the Ruby Suns, and vice versa.)

So if this is really a break-up record, perhaps McPhun wrote some of these songs in the euphoria phase that initially follows a split. The swelling synths and beats on opening track “Desert of Pop” sound like fanfare for the Madonna-themed float at a gay pride parade, and “Starlight” is pure disco-ether. Sure, there are morose snatches of sounds here and there, like the recurring piano motif in “In Real Life,” though the ’80s synth-plosion that immediately follows serves as a great cover for the tracks of his tears.

“Dramatik” and “Kingfisher Call Me” are the only tracks to truly delve into sadness, and even on these consecutive songs, the tenderness has a shine to it. An impressive feat for a guy living in the land of black metal.

The Ruby Suns play Casa del Popolo on Feb. 27.


Young Galaxy, “Pretty Boy”

Anticipation is high for the return of local quintet Young Galaxy, who will be releasing their new record Ultramarine (produced once again by Dan Lissvik) via Paper Bag on April 23. Here’s a taste.


Exclusive Video:

Wake Island, “I Like It”

Formerly known as Intensive Care, Wake Island will soon launch their sophomore LP, recorded with Breakglass Studios dude (and Besnard Lakes frontman) Jace Lasek — for more about that, read the feature about the band in the upcoming print edition of Cult MTL, out next Thursday, Jan. 31. But first, watch this video for a song off last year’s It Takes Time EP, created with

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