The Ruby Suns
Sea Lion takes you on a “strange, lovely trip,” said Emily Mackay in New Musical Express. California native Ryan McPhun uprooted himself to Auckland, New Zealand, where he formed the Ruby Suns, and since their 2005 self-titled debut, the songwriter just can’t seem to stay put. McPhun has trekked to Africa, Thailand, and throughout the South Pacific, not only adding stamps to his passport but also broadening the band’s musical range. Sea Lion shows McPhun “wandering the world, capturing sounds on his Dictaphone, and stitching them into a patchwork quilt” of international noise and nuance. This is world music by way of indie pop, said Andrew Leahey in Billboard. While bands such as Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend adopt global styles, the Ruby Suns fully immerse themselves in foreign cultures. As a result, they’ve created an “aural melting pot.” The melodies burst with ethnic flavors from djembe drums to steel-string ukuleles. “Tane Mahuta” is sung entirely in the Polynesian dialect of the Maori people. But throughout this musical voyage, McPhun keeps stirring in sunny psych-pop that’s reminiscent of fellow Californian Brian Wilson. That “hard-charging positivity” keeps Sea Lion grounded, said Andrew Gaerig in Pitchforkmedia.com. The album “shines brightest when it stays closest to its indie rock roots,” proving that maybe there is no place like home.