The Ruby Suns – Sprite Fountain
The painting on the cover of The Ruby Suns’ new record is an apt depiction of the moment just before you hit play. Like much of Ryan McPhun’s back catalogue, to listen to Sprite Fountain is to be inundated by a tidal wave of competing sounds and rhythms, churned up from all across the seven seas. At first it’s a struggle just to get your bearings.
McPhun writes dense, knotty compositions that pivot in an instant and produce, at least initially, the kind of sensory overload usually associated with the likes of Animal Collective or Flying Lotus. Perhaps even more so than the former group, McPhun digs his Beach Boys harmonies in a big way, and his slow-wafting crooning is a rubber ring of familiarity in these unpredictable waters.
At times there’s a flamboyance to Sprite Fountain that approaches musical theatre – the finger-snapping transition in K Rd Woody could be Queen or ELO – while other tracks unfold more like paintings in motion. Blankee, with its lingering synths and humid ambience, sounds like a moonlit aquarium, slowly filling with smoke.
The best moments anchor all the exotic tangents and psychedelic percussion in solid, memorable hooks. The Zipper is a standout example and a cut above anything else on the album. Like the fairground ride it’s named after, it’s an experience of thrilling dynamism. For a moment you’re suspended up high as a mandolin rings out across the landscape, and then suddenly you’re plunging down, already anticipating your next go around.
Listen to: The Zipper, Blåhvalene