Ruby Coast – Projectable Collections EP
Projectable Collections EP
Sometimes I get to meet the bands I review, and it’s always fun when I do. The boys of Ruby Coast were no exception. I met most of the band at Coconut Grove last week during the Halifax Pop Explosion, which they were here to play. I met Nathan first, kind of randomly. I was talking to Rich Aucoin, whom I’d met a long time ago during the Over The Top Festival in Toronto, which I’d played with The Fancy Claps in 2007, and when Rich had to go, Nathan was hanging by the bar. I saw him over at Spiral Beach’s show just before so we started talking and he told me he was part of Ruby Coast. I then got to meet most of the rest of the band and we chilled a bit, talked about the EP, Aurora and how many girls we’d slept with (you’d think the rock stars would have slept with more girls than the rock critic – not always so, apparently).
I’d heard the EP and liked it before meeting them but it’s taken me until now to strap down and review the damn thing. So yes, I do like the EP, as the score at the top already reveals. However, as the lack of a 10.0/10.0 score reveals, I have some problems with it. Namely, the band sounds way too much like Tokyo Police Club – something that is not helped by the fact that TPC member Dave Monks produced the EP. Lead singer Justice McLellan’s vocals sound almost exactly like Monks’ do, their lyrics could easily be written by the same person, and both bands’ pop sensibilities are pretty much identical. Honestly, in a more cynical world, Ruby Coast could simply be Monks’ attempt to clone his own band and profit off of it.
Luckily, Tokyo Police Club is a pretty good band that’s met with an enormous amount of success over the past couple years. But does the world really need Tokyo Police Club Jr.? No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t even need Tokyo Police Club Sr.. The band knows how to write hooks like it knows how to breathe but their music isn’t pushing any boundaries lyrically or stylistically nor achieving anything truly that impressive. Elephant Shell was the same song rewritten like 12 times – but luckily it was a good song.
Ruby Coast’s Projectable Collectors EP is more varied than that album but not by all that much. The band tries some interesting things, like integrating shifting song-structures in songs like opener “More Than Television”, which starts as a two-chord charger but then gets a turn-around via cheerful melody. They also make use of a great bouncy-rhythm in “Laugh At Alice”.
Really every song is musically fantastic; catchy as fuck and stuffed to the brim with lovely little hooks. Their playing is amazingly tight and energetic, resulting in impressively performed songs from start to finish. Then of course there’s the pitch-perfect production by Dave Monks, which not only gets the job done but adds all kinds of fun little touches, like whirling noises that fill up the sides of the sonic landscape.
The lyrics however are often meaningless or contain some cute little cultural observation (“I remember watching television/at my first glance/what’s in what’s out, what our lives are about/you better dance the way we dance”). None of the songs seem to actually be about anything, and this is something TPC is guilty of also. Not only are they about nothing but they leave no meaningful impression upon the listener lyrically, emotionally or intellectually.
Though Pavement, The Pixies and The New Pornographers write most of their lyrics with meaningless wordplay, their songs often seem to be about something, even if they’re not. The song “Here” off Slanted and Enchanted might have been written with Steven Malkmus just tossing off whatever came to mind but how many better opening lines are there than, “I was dressed for success/but success it never came”? How many other alt-rock bands have written verses as affecting as “and I’m the only one who laughs/at your jokes when they are so bad/and your jokes are always bad”? That song might actually be about nothing but I have no doubt in my mind that that song has meaning, even if it wasn’t intended to. There’s a reason Malkmus and Pavement are as revered as they are. Ruby Coast has a long way to go to achieving such meaningless meaning with its lyrics and music.
I can’t actually give the EP a bad review as it’s too damn enjoyable. Each song is awesome and different enough to make listening to it a consistently exciting experience. However, if Bob Dylan is a Soy Protein Burger shot-up with essential nutrients and LSD, then Ruby Coast is a candy dipstick: sweet as fuck but disposable and unfortunately quite forgettable.
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