Ruby Haunt
Watching the Grass Grow


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale CONTRIBUTOR (53 Reviews)
September 4th, 2021 | 37 replies


Release Date: 09/02/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I remember the life / I remember the laughter

-- A collaborative review by Sunnyvale & JesperL --

Watching The Grass Grow was released the only way Ruby Haunt would and probably could have unveiled it: on a Thursday, with close to zero promotion as nothing was revealed about the record beforehand apart from a few singles quietly lingering on streaming platforms. It feels rather peaceful: in an age of month-long album release campaigns, endless streams of singles and other attempts to grab people’s attention, Ruby Haunt prefer to let their music speak for itself. And speak it does, albeit in a beautifully subdued voice.

Sadly, this does mean that Ruby Haunt aren’t exactly Mega World Famous Superstars. The Los Angeles-based band have steadily emerged as one of the best unsung musical groups of the last decade. While their early works are comprised of largely unspectacular (if solid) dream pop, the recent three album run, from 2018’s Blue Hour onwards, have seen the duo come into their own. Merging their highly atmospheric take on dream pop with slowcore influences and a prevalent sensation of Americana were key to this success. The album artwork for the band’s previous three LPs personifies the exact vibes of the music: hazey, bright, pretty, but with something a little grim lurking just under the surface. While most ventures within the dream pop sphere tend to project a cosmopolitan urban feel, Ruby Haunt’s recent efforts summon a feeling of rural loneliness and desolation. While Blue Hour and The Middle Of Nowhere were strong albums carried primarily by exquisite atmospheres rather than particularly memorable songs, the band took a significant step forward on 2020’s Tiebreaker, combining their usual solid ambience with a crop of memorable tunes propelled by gentle guitars and keyboard-focused melodies. The gorgeously brooding results weren’t quite enough to merit the status of a classic, but landed the record a well-deserved spot among last year’s strongest musical efforts. Combined with a great little two-song EP released earlier in 2021, expectations among those aware of Ruby Haunt’s existence for the new full-length Watching The Grass Grow were sky-high. Does it deliver?

Opening cut ‘Pyro’ can only be interpreted as a resounding ‘yes’. Don’t be mistaken; it’s a calm, understated ‘yes’, but an affirmation nonetheless. It’s the type of song that swallows the listener whole, draining every ounce of capability for critical analysis from my body. But hey, let’s try and dissect its beauty regardless. ‘Pyro’ is built on the foundation of one simple, meandering riff: it gently increases in prevalence for two minutes before Wyatt Innins’ soft vocals add an even greater sense of comfort to the song. Its post rock-infused beauty is the perfect vehicle for lyrics of despair and destruction, adding bewitchingly wistful touches to words describing anything but bliss: “Never’d guess how it would shatter / In the palm of my hand”. These more expansive vibes are prevalent throughout Watching The Grass Grow; as the record is even more focused on atmosphere and lush textures than Ruby Haunt’s previous works. Take ‘Hummingbird’ and ‘Dusty’: both are fully instrumental songs, yet disregarding them as ‘mere’ interludes would be an insult to their significance on the album. The former distinguishes itself with heavenly guitar-led melodies, whereas ‘Dusty’ adds a wonderful new layer by introducing gentle strings to the band’s sound.

While the aforementioned ‘Pyro’ and the more immediate, rock-oriented second track ‘Roman Candle’ set up Watching The Grass Grow as a more diverse listen than Ruby Haunt have ever attempted before, the seven remaining songs are admittedly a tad homogenous. Throughout this stretch, while more expansive and atmospheric than the band’s previous works, the music still sits comfortably within familiar confines. From ‘Jawbone’s smooth textures to ‘Silver’s gently twinkling keyboards, there is something to indulge in within every corner of the album. The latter song’s final moments seem rather self-reflective, perfectly describing Watching The Grass Grow’s approach: “When looking back has served its purpose / I’ll bring it back for another twirl”.

Is Watching The Grass Grow Ruby Haunt’s best work yet? The answer to this particular question will depend on each listener’s personal preferences, even if it is undeniable that the band’s most recent output has been nothing but top-tier indie. With their latest release, Ruby Haunt have amped up the already substantial sonic beauty factor to eleven and introduced some delightful new influences to expand their sound. While it could be argued that Tiebreaker was slightly more successful in crafting an all-encompassing mood, Watching The Grass Grow is a wonderful record and hints at an incredibly bright future for the duo. Lyrically as dark as ever, the album introduces more introspection and reduces the sinister undertones of previous works, crafting something which remains distinctly Ruby Haunt while demarcating a new, gorgeous, and essential chapter in the band’s path.



Recent reviews by this author
Noltem Illusions In The WakeKaren Peris A Song is Way Above the Lawn
Strand of Oaks In HeavenThe Clientele The Violet Hour
Iskandr VergezichtThe Ophelias (USA-OH) Crocus
user ratings (29)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Brought to you by Jesper and Sunnyvale (AKA The Dream Team), as we're two leaders of Sputnik's little Ruby Haunt fanclub

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2021


3440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yess!! hopefully that fanclub can expand a tiny lil bit now :]

Digging: A Ritual Sea - A Ritual Sea

NorthernSkylark
September 4th 2021


11693 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking metres … nvm I’ll join ! I have high hopes for this one for sure…

Digging: Ex:Re - Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dylan lyric references always welcome! Happy to have you

Sowing
Moderator
September 4th 2021


39293 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Huge fan of the vocals on this. The slowcore/dream-pop instrumentals keep this reserved for a certain type of mood/atmosphere, but yeah this is stunning. Great review.

Digging: Stephen Sanchez - What Was, Not Now

NorthernSkylark
September 4th 2021


11693 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pyro is such a sweet opener. Listening now as the sun sets.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2021


3440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cheers sowing! definitely check tiebreaker as well, i have a feeling that one might be even further up your alley

sounds like the perfect setting for that song sky, i had it on repeat while walking through the swiss alps recently and it was magical

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Sowing! I'll echo Jesper's comment, Tiebreaker will likely be your thing as well.

NorthernSkylark
September 5th 2021


11693 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This might just be on level with tiebreaker actually, there’s not a single bad song here and it’s just so effortlessly cohesive. My faves so far are: Pyro, Roman Candle, Silver, Skip-Tracing and Arrow.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2021


3440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

4s 4 days, hell yeah

they have a classic in them and i have a feeling it won't be long until it's released (esp given their recent schedule of 1 album per year)

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

NorthernSkylark, basically agree, both albums are on the same level.



Jesper, yep, still thinking they've got a true classic coming up and I do appreciate how frequently they've been releasing quality stuff recently

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2021


3773 Comments


Love collab reviews, nice nice. Spotify always autoplays me these guys; time to finally check, sounds great.

Colton
September 6th 2021


12687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

love the cover, dream pop, and most of sunnyvale’s taste so this is going on my list for sure

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers @BlushfulHippocrene and @Colton, hope you both enjoy!

Toolbag
September 6th 2021


5548 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Looks like this will right up my album. Nice review

Digging: Steely Dan - Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live!

Egarran
September 6th 2021


24757 Comments


I remember the wife
I remember the daughter

Digging: Spectral Blood - Black Famine

mazalthan
September 6th 2021


89 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yesssss, so happy to see some Ruby Haunt love on here. They are insanely consistent for how underrated they have remained. This review also does the album great justice.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks @Toolbag and @mazalthan! They do have a very good discography all around.

SymbolicInTime
September 7th 2021


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow I may need to delve into their discog, this is incredibly endearing

henryChinaski
September 7th 2021


4463 Comments


Absolutely loved their album Sugar. Haven't really payed too much attention to their newer stuff, but might check this out.

Digging: sam fender - Seventeen Going Under



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy