New Ruins: This Life is Not Ours to Keep

New Ruins
This Life is Not Ours to Keep
(Earth Analog)

Where has the time gone? It seems to me New Ruins just hit the scene but, in reality, they’re releasing their fourth LP. Wow – doesn’t seem possible.

The boys are growing and in the best possible ways as musicians and songwriters. This Life is Not Ours to Keep is an engaging collection of tunes which demonstrate a maturity on the part of co-leaders Elzie Sexton and Caleb Means.

The band is known for their ’70s Laurel Canyon, sunbaked rock sound. But on This Life is Not Ours to Keep, you hear a mixture U.K. new wave (ala Echo & the Bunnymen) and the Appalachian-ish nufolk propagated by bands like Fleet Foxes. Those influences add to the heaviness and darkness of the album. It is not nearly as perceptible on the first listen as it is on, say, the fifth. Upon initial listen you notice it … it’s enjoyable, but something is off and you’re hit with the notion that all is not as it appears. You can’t shake the feeling and it gnaws at you until you spin it again. Once you’ve gotten a few listens under your belt it has you … and don’t be surprised if it has you in tears.

Brian Deck (Califone) produced the album. He’s twirled knobs and made a difference with groups like Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine, and Fruit Bats. According to the band’s bio, you can hear Deck’s hands in the echoing percussion that wobbles through “Homes Of Rich Blood”, the ghostly vocals that creep into “Fast One”, and in the clear-eyed vision that allows the band to sound even more punchy and emotive.