The Ruby Suns
Sea Lion
****
Popfrenzy

Sea Lion is no polite, tourist-pleasing creature. The Ruby Suns’ second album is beautifully messy - a little crazed, hypervivid and individual. “Papauanuku” has a disorderly and flower-pressed pop charm, coming across like Animal Collective when they’re on friendly terms with a melody (and not when they’re trying to buzzsaw it to death). “Gibble” is all falsetto giddiness, like Brian Wilson tripping out on helium, while the Technicolour world music of “Tane Mahuta” feels as lofty as the ancient 50-metre tree it’s named after. Listening to this album of sundazed and instrument-lush songs is a bubbleheaded joy. The Auckland trio is headed by Ryan McPhun (The Brunettes) and rarely do they veer from their yellow brick road, although “Remember” and “There Are Birds” add unexpected calm and “Morning Sun” inexplicably drops into 80s synth mode halfway through. Sea Lion is untameable and that’s its greatest trick.

Lee Tran Lam

Rolling Stone, July 2008