It's easy to get stuck in the past when fixating on a band's first album. Born Ruffians, the Toronto-based quartet, is five years later still measured by their wonderful debut, Red, Yellow & Blue. Understandably, the band's sound has changed since then, but it's hard not to yearn for the herky-jerky pop that made their debut so memorable. On their third album, Birthmarks, however, they've definitely chilled out and grown up, sounding more polished and versatile than ever before. So Slow is a moody jam with hints of R&B, while on Too Soaked To Break, leader Luke Lalonde swaps his signature raw yelps for cool crooning blanketed in reverb. On closing track Never Age, Lalonde's dreamy vocals float beside their echo, an ethereal effect that works beautifully. Eschewing the indie rock tag, Born Ruffians are embracing a new diversified sound that reaches beyond the guitar-bass-drums trifecta, and for the most part, it hits the mark.
Top track: Never Age