Mat Kerekes’ new solo album is a perfect, early-summer release filled  with simple but infectious melodies that function as flawless mood  music for the upcoming season. The soft grunge, post-hardcore album, Ruby, is breathing with the spirit of young freedom. Ruby  is a refreshing, feel-good creation, but it also captures a bit of  audio-induced nostalgia if you were really into the culture that allowed  punk rock to thrive.

Kerekes is best known as the vocalist of the alternative rock band, Citizen. Going solo with Ruby, he really showcased his abilities as a songwriter and producer. Ruby is a modernly classic body of work, and the songs that comprise it are hard to keep off of repeat.

Sounds like Summer

The beginning of the album immediately drops a wave of good emotion  on listeners. The first three tracks, “Ruby,” “Diamond,” and “Young” all  have pleasantly smooth arrangements. The acoustics and drumlines that  make up the compositions of these songs, as well as the fourth song,  “Autumn Dress,” are very soothing and mellow. Whether you’re actively or  passively listening, these songs, in particular, are hard not to smile  or nod your head to. These are the types of songs you picture someone  playing acoustically at a small outdoor venue, probably somewhere near  the beach. They are radiating with a free-spirited, laid-back vibe and  it only makes us look toward summertime with wider eyes.

After the first couple of tracks, the overall sound takes a slight  shift into a softer alternative punk. Keeping in mind that quite a few  songs in the album are more slow-tempo, Kerekes still laces it with his  reinvention of punk rock influence.

Classic, But Refreshing Punk Rock

The second half of the album, while original, has very classic  compositions in relation to punk rock. None of the songs are too  intense, but the ones that are a little more on the alternative side are  composed with guitar and drumlines that subtly support an underlying  soft grunge feel. The arrangements with these two instruments, including  the acoustic guitar, are very tight and quick with the melodies that  reflect the punk sound. Some songs that exemplify this are “Hawthorne,”  “Spider Silk,” and “An Ode.”  Although most of the songs are slow-tempo,  they’re still fresh and they do kick us with a small wave of nostalgia.

It may just be me, but the vocals–to some extent–remind me of The  Fray, Train, and bands alike, where vocals are detrimental to the band’s  sound and recognition. They have a certain flair that complements their  alt-rock subgenre. Like those bands, Kerekes implements a certain kind  of emphasis on his voice that accompanies his melodies beautifully and  further defines his American alternative rock style.

One aspect that nudges this album a little more toward the  post-hardcore side is the guitar solos. This is another thing that’s  most noticeable during the second half of the album. In a few of the  songs, a small guitar solo is integrated a little over halfway through  the song. While this is nothing out of the ordinary for the genre, it  doesn’t really seem to fit all that well with the other songs on this  album. Ruby is filled with predominately slow songs, which  isn’t ever explicitly a bad thing, but the hard riffs and rhythms are  just slightly out of place. The compositions of the solos are great on  their own, but they just don’t seem to fit in too well given the way  they’re placed into the songs. This small element does kind of throw off  the somber mood that some songs initially have, but it’s nothing  detrimental to the quality of the music or the album overall; it was the  only thing that truly stood out to me as a small flaw within the  arrangements.

Kerekes, the singer, songwriter, and producer of Ruby  created a simple, raw album. Nothing within the production is overdone  or tweaked too much. This gives the album a very personal, mellow, and  savory sound that’s hard to come by in most mainstream music; Ruby is a purely unconventional and fresh album from a truly underrated solo artist. Be sure to add the recently released songs on Ruby to your summer jams playlist now.

Featured Image: Highlight Magazine

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