There’s something very soothing about the latest album from Ruby Haunt. Every sound presented by the LA duo builds up into this lush and rich atmosphere. From the somber acoustic rhythms, the haunting shoegaze effects and ethereal vocal harmonies, all of these coalesce into something that feels inherently relaxing. Tiebreaker is one of those records that you can dive into regardless of your current mood and leave you feeling good out of the gate. It evokes emotions and memories that are neutral in nature – one that’s neither too shy nor too overbearing. Like the slow drizzle of rain pitter-pattering on your windows, or the laid back demeanor your body instinctively adapts during cold a Sunday morning
These songs are steeped in minimalism, with plenty of repetition and droning effects, long and meditative without ever feeling like dragging. And it’s no wonder – with soundscapes as gorgeous as these – there’s hardly any need for sweeping changes, except for minor embellishments and a subtractive element here and there. The lyrics are grounded in normal life, with stories anyone can relate to on a deeper level. In this aspect it feels like Tiebreaker is a folk/Americana album re-imagined with indie sensibilities.
Opener “River” feels fluid and airy, with layers of effects and overdubbing that gives one a sense of weightlessness. “Carrie” is anchored by a tandem of synth oscillations and an earthy acoustic guitar. In it the band chronicles the life of a small town girl as she questions her life decisions and her current situation. Although lyrics aren’t generally the main focus, they are still rewarding to dive into.
It’s remarkable how these songs can induce a flow-state to the listener, I find myself constantly getting lost in the lush atmospheres the band presents. It’s individual elements are perfectly laid out for you to pick apart – a few drum pads here, a piano and string arrangement there, with hardly any obfuscation in the lyrics – but mix them together and it’s hard not to get captivated.
On “Splinters”, the immersion is all but effortless as the narrator thinks about getting thrown in the river and being buried in the sand. On paper this may sound self-destructive, but within the context of the song it suggests a feeling of being one with nature. These heartfelt moments are the highlights of this album. “April Second” gives off the feeling of snuggling near a campfire. “Rest Stop” swoons with its slide guitar and tape machine effect, reminiscent of a journey through a vast landscape. Tiebreaker is filled with tender moments like these, something we all could use right now.