Album Title: Life Ruiner
First Impression: Cool group (yes, they’re a group)
of musicians not afraid to take some risks in the interest of
making a neat little indie-pop record.
Album In One Word: Clever
Sounds Like: Belle and Sebastian meets Sunny Day Real
Makes Me Feel: Like writing something witty.
Why This Band Is Unique: How many other bands that you
know of have written a song to Mary-Kate Olsen?
Who Would Like This Album: Twee-pop kids with a jones
for pop-cultural references and a little cheeky sweetness to
Recommended Song: “Bangs 11”
Cunningham is what happens when a group of clever people get
together and pen some simple yet effective indie-pop gems.
The group’s sense of humor is one of its strongest assets;
the album features a song called “I Wish I Could Put This
Into Words” in which there are no words, “Mary Kate Are
You OK?” is a cheeky get-well card to Mary Kate Olsen, and
“Dating a Stripper” is, well, about the positive and
negative aspects of romantic involvement with an exotic
dancer. Apart from the fun (and funny) lyrical antics of Carl
Cunningham’s lighter work, however, are some pretty, catchy
“Fake a Smile,” with its folk-ballady pacing and
sensitively-strummed guitar part could have come from an Iron
& Wine EP. The classic archetype of a “coffee-house
song,” “Fake a Smile" is an early standout.
“Bangs 11” is the hands-down star of this album, despite
some competition from the almost-as-stellar closer, “Over
It!” The building, climbing guitars and back-up vocals are
the full realization of Carl Cunningham as a whole entity and
the climax at the end will make any listener fall in love with
The rest of the album follows suit as a solid indie-pop
offering. Despite a bit of a slow-down with “Untitled for
Now” and “You Can’t Cry If You Don’t Have Eyes” the
album gets back on track with “I Noticed Your Side-Part and
Loved It,” which sounds like a harmonica-infused Sunny Day
Real Estate outtake, and “Over It!,” a contender for the
esteemed position of Recommended Song.
Overall, Life Ruiner is a fantastic listen and deserves a
place in anyone’s album collection. (Dan Moore)