Does the first band get considered merely an innovator and put behind the new band? Does the new band get considered copycats, even though they’re doing it as well or better?
This is the problem in reviewing Ruby Coast’s “Whatever This Is”: It sounds exactly like a Tokyo Police Club album. I mean, down to the very tone of the singer. It goes even deeper than sound. They’re from the same area (Toronto). They sing about similar things in similar ways (i.e. singing didactically to an abstracted “you”). THE BANDS EVEN KIND OF LOOK THE SAME. OK, exaggerating that last point.
But seriously, if you play a Tokyo Police Club track next to a Ruby Coast track, you can’t tell the difference. Über-perky melodies. Specific rhythmic guitar tone. Warm bass tone. Herky-jerky verses into smoothed out choruses (or vice versa). The aforementioned creepy resemblance in the two vocalists, whether singing, hollering or falsettoing. This is the sound of both bands.
And, to be honest, I enjoy listening to “Whatever This Is” in the same way and amount that I loved TPC’s 2010 release, “Champ.” This is one review where comparing to another band isn’t a cop-out; it’s a necessity.
“Made to Change” pulls off the mid-tempo anthem memorably, infusing it with just the right amount of adrenaline (but tempered with the right amount of twinkly guitar work). “Liza Liza” pulls the whole “rapidly strum acoustic guitar, hit kick drum repeatedly” trick and makes it work because of the strength of the vocals. “I Live With Monsters” lets the keyboards do their thing, and it produces a burbling, exciting track. “Dr. Acula” puts a marimba to great use. “Creep Me Out” is magnificent, with its whistling/drums intro and exuberant guitar work.
There are so few differences between these two bands that it’s hard to do a “who’s better” comparison. It just feels like different albums from the same source. “Whatever This Is” by Ruby Coast is an exciting, affecting album that will appeal to anyone who likes pop melodies, sparkling arrangements and young enthusiasm. And/or Tokyo Police Club. Pick it up for free. —Stephen Carradini