Ruins are a duo to fall in love with. Or at least listen to when you’ve fallen in or out of love with someone else. Debut album ‘Sample Size’ has just hit Bandcamp and the Liverpool group are playing a free gig on Smithdown Road next week. Be there. By Alan O’Hare.
I love a falsetto. Especially a well-delivered one from a male singer. It reveals a strength and a sense of security in a songwriter who doubts what they’re sure of… but goes ahead and does it anyway. Get me? Good, because if you do, you’ll get Ruins. You’ll also get Ruins if you like music that sounds like right now. Sure, there’s a risk of running the zeitgeist and trapping yourself in a date-stamped glass case if you hide your songs in the synthscapes and meandering melodies that dominate today’s playlists. But if the songs are good, the singing special and the choices choice, then rich rewards can be hit upon.
“I became weary of the singer/songwriter acoustic song format and wanted to try something different,” says ex-Ella Guru bassist and Ruins co-founder, Nik Kavanagh. “So I decided to create instrumental mood pieces, with some rough sketches for melody lines, and then pass the recordings on.” It was who he passed the music onto that was vital, however: singer Lloyd Rock, possessor of the fine falsetto upon which we commenced. “I was instantly inspired. Lyrical and melodic ideas that had been waiting in my notebook found a voice and I liked it. Wherever there is mood, I’m soon to follow,” he says. The sound of Ruins relies upon listeners enjoying a float across still waters as beauty reveals itself now and again from the icy hidden depths. Atmospheric? Of course. Ethereal? Standard. Minimal? Perhaps, but only if you (just) can’t get enough from nuanced noisescapes, beefy bass lines and superb singing.
Listen closely to the haunting ‘Sturm and Drang’ (“Let me take you back to where it all began… “) and you’ll hear the stunning sound of a band making the music that flows naturally from them. It reads back daft, that, especially when you say it out loud (surely that’s the point of making music?), but it’s amazing how many bands sound like anything but themselves. You’ll find the beating heart of this band in songs like (anything but) ‘Graceless’ and the sparse pop of ‘Last Nail’, but whilst not varied – Ruins are all about an aesthetic – the duo also make music that moves, as well as moves you, with tunes like ‘No Tiggy Butcher’ and ‘Song Of A Camera’ coming on like The Cure at their most curious.
The emotional and masculine maturity of In Utero-era Nirvana is in here, too, alongside the synth-pop craft of The xx and Wild Beasts, but Ruins won’t be always crashing in the same car as the copycat cast-off material Kavanagh is trying to leave behind. In this darkness, there are hidden words that shine.
Friday November 16th 2018, 8pm
Evil Eye, Smithdown Road, Liverpool
‘Sample Size’, by Ruins, is available now
Pic courtesy Ruins