“I think it was something that was bound to happen. I’d flirted with pop long enough; it [was] time to delve in,” observed Ryan McPhun, lead singer of The Ruby Suns, when talking about the band’s latest release, Christopher, during an interview with opbmusic‘s Jeremy Petersen.
A lot has changed in the three years since The Ruby Suns released their last album, Fight Softly. Following a breakup with a past band member, McPhun changed the band’s lineup and, to an extent, its sound. The Ruby Suns is now a trio of McPhun on guitar and vocals, keys player Bevan Smith and drummer Alistair Deverick, and the tropical styles of songs like “Tane Mahuta” have given way to a new kind of pop sound.
This evolution only seems natural as parts of the album were created in Olso, Norway, a key player in the fabled Scandinavian gloss-pop scene. In discussing his relationship with pop, McPhun talks about growing up listening to his parents’ music — Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates, and Phil Collins.
“They’re probably my three top favorite bands still. I think that definitely influenced what I like now, and of course the nostalgic thing is so huge and I think everybody’s affected by that.”
McPhun also loves Swedish dance-pop queen Robyn, whom he references in the track “Desert of Pop.”
Chris Coady, who has worked with many indie heavyweights, engineered Christopher, resulting in a bright hi-fi sound full of synths and youthfully nostalgic lyrics.
Christopher serves as a metaphor for transformation, both emotionally and musically. In “Kingfisher Call Me,” the first single, it becomes apparent that the album is about moving on and growing up: “You came so far/from psychological high school/the look on your face/waterfalls/dry your eyes/it’s what to do/don’t listen to anyone but you.”
The Ruby Suns is currently touring the U.S. and Canada. Christopher was released by Sub Pop on January 29.