Ruins - Pure at Heart (Album Review)

Ruins are a Liverpudlian alternative pop-duo who create emotive soundscapes with rock-steady drum machines, gentle guitars, and falsetto vocals. Vocalist Lloyd Rock has a dulcet and high-pitched voice, and when coupled with the sometimes bizarre music of Nik Kavanagh, Ruins create a highly distinctive sound. There is a calming gush found on their sophomore album "Pure at Heart", and while the musical palette features incongruous elements like muddy electric guitars playing under more serene flourishes, and the intensity of the vocals can sometimes overwhelm, there is a heart to the songs and the production that is indeed pure. 

"Kintsugi" introduces the album with a drum machine, woozy synths, and an alluring indie guitar sound. Rock's singing commands attention for its peculiarity alone, and though sometimes grating in their warbly falter, they are effective in their ability to push the listener's emotional buttons. "Horsepope" has a beguiling chorus tinged with equal measures of sadness and hope ("Everyone will fall apart at some time"), and the disparate elements on this track (jangly guitar, full-bodied percussion, atmospheric synths and passionate vocals) blend quite well, yet not even Google knows what a 'horsepope' is. "Lioness" is a dreamlike indie-pop tune with echoes of Cigarettes after Sex in its low-light mood, but comparing Ruins to anyone doesn't really work. "youswimaghost" is nothing like the aforementioned dream-pop group and sees an industrial drum sound form the backbone of this soulful and harmony-laden track. 

Enticing drum programming and rock guitar give "Apple Trees & Blood Stained Leaves" a post-punk push, but the R&B/pop vocals place it more into the industrial pop camp. Blending genres is always an admirable feat, and whether or not this blending is successful doesn't negate that new ground has been covered in the musical landscape. "Silent Talk" is a cohesive and well-written track that enchants with its waterfall guitars and steadfast bass line. Elsewhere, "Way to Fall" draws inspiration from the group's locale to produce a Merseybeat-driven alt-pop tune replete with "bopbopadoos", surf riffs, and bittersweet lyrics ("Take my life and pass it off as your own").

"Pure at Heart" displays a wide range of influences, from 70s disco-pop to 90s adult contemporary, and is an admirable and sincere attempt to express complicated emotions while creating atmospheric music. There is, however, a sense that Ruins haven't exactly nailed down their sound and are throwing ideas onto a wall to see what sticks. Nevertheless, the moments that do stick offer some romantic and hopeful listening; for some, the highly singular nature of these songs could speak to them more than any other.