Album Review: Luke Lalonde—”Rhythymnals”

By Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

When I heard that Luke Lalonde (of Born Ruffians fame) was releasing his first solo effort, my initial reaction was a mixture of excitement and worry. I was stoked that I’d be hearing something new from the guy with the cheeky boyish voice, but I knew it would be hard to distance Luke from Born Ruffians, the band which basically provided the soundtrack to my high school years. My feelings soon turned from worry to giddiness as I began listening to what proved to be a charming record.

From the very first dissonant chord of the opening track, it’s clear that Lalonde has no trouble putting his band mates aside for a moment and taking his turn in the spotlight. This album shows maturity and growth; Lalonde sheds his chaotic youthful exuberance and trades it for some melancholia and quirky dark imagination, telling tales of jilted lovers (“Inamorataos”), a self-harming youth (“My Friend Archibald (R.I.P.)”) and dysfunctional relationships (“Shove Off”).

Rhythymnals is like sonic potpourri, genre hopping and experimenting with timbres and textures; while Lalonde hasn’t lost touch with his roots (I can totally picture Ruffians Mitch and Steve dancing and playing along with the deliciously dissonant “Shove Off” on stage), he dabbles in something new here, cutting his teeth on an R&B-infused ditty (the notoriously catchy “Undone”) and a laid-back electro-pop jam (“Red Wagon”), among others. Though the mystery grab-bag factor is fun, it often leaves the listener feeling a bit perplexed at the lack of cohesion between some of the songs.

Lalonde has found his own voice, but he hasn’t forgotten his past, peppering little bits of it here and there; he treads on uncharted territory by adding some glitchy electronic sounds to his usual array of acoustic frequencies. I’m pleased to see him forge a fresh new direction, and I’m happy to declare that Lalonde can definitely stand on his own.

Listen to: “Shove Off”, “Red Wagon”

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