Taking busking that one step further, Brighton quartet Rubylux adopted a unique approach to self-promotion that has rarely been seen on a similar magnitude before: guerrilla street gigs. Driving themselves around the south coast – and then further afield – the band would bundle all their gear (including a borrowed generator and PA system) into the back of a van, before carefully trawling potential town centre locations. Once a prime spot had been identified, a quick set-up was followed by a 20-30 minute live set (or for as long as they could) which drew some serious attention from the media, as well as the authorities.
Formed in 2008, the band sold their own CDs to the public, helping to fund both the purchase of their own equipment and the self-release of their first full album Fake Control in 2010, which included the impressive The Boy Could Fly single – subsequently featured in the television show Being Human. The same year also saw them scoop the inaugural Brighton Music Awards gong for Best Band, presented by Roger Daltrey nonetheless, and the boys have since toured officially, including visits to Germany, Australia, the US and even Vietnam.
The title track opens the album with the band’s already polished sound given an additional shine; undeniably catchy, the result has radio friendly stamped all over it. Lead singer/guitarist Rob Irving possesses both the looks and vocals that could see him fronting any number of manufactured boybands, and indeed the song itself is almost too perfect – falling somewhere between those overly commercial songs penned specifically for an aforementioned boyband and one of the colossal giants of mainstream, such as Coldplay.
The poignant, mellow Black Sun Needs Sparks follows the same territory within its opening verses before launching into a string-accompanied chorus that propels the song towards a more anthemic level. I Don’t Want Paradise is another well-written song that benefits from melodic synths and guitar – a likely single.
Military drums intermittently adorn Spiral, as the stop-start formula of softly, softly then loud burst begins to sound familiar in construction, although an excellent but short guitar solo deviates slightly. The opening bars of Red Moon Falls sound like a toned down Feeder, another (but much grittier) band that adopt the predominantly stop-start structure. At this point it becomes abundantly clear that there will be no risk taking here, the band staying firmly within its comfort zone at virtually every moment.
Lovers Of New York uses minimal instrumentalism to deliver its delicate story of a former romance, hushed vocals accompanied by plucked guitar, piano and soft percussion plus occasional strings. Our Design contains an intro that is about as far towards rock that the band venture, with that non-confrontational style taking over until a superb guitar solo kicks in to spectacularly declare what this band is capable of.
Order Me Double does admittedly push its guitar riff to the forefront but this approach is rare. Love Without A Cause is possibly the most heartfelt song on the album – a sparse piano line, accompanied by soft vocals once again, walks a sad and reflective path before building into a string-led anthemic climax. The use of strings is prevalent again on closing tracks Screaming And Surrender and Sound Of Light, with the latter opening to something uncannily like a string version of the alien calling sequence adopted within Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Rubylux on record are a little different from the Rubylux that played those earlier street gigs; the sound and production has been perfected which will undoubtedly attract numerous fans (predominantly young females at a guess), but the raw potential those shows portrayed is somewhat lost, which is a shame because they are good enough to rely heavily on that raw sound without over embellishing it. When the quality of the songs is as strong as it is here, there is no need to play it so safe.