The Ruts DC/The Ruts may not be the most well-known punk band, but their music is an essential facet in punk music with classic tunes like ‘In A Rut’, ‘Babylon’s Burning’ and ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’. In 1983 The Ruts called it quits after trying and ultimately failing to continue following the death of lead singer Malcolm Owen from a heroin overdose.
On July 16th, 2008 The Ruts got back together to help guitarist, Paul Fox, and his family financially prepare for his final days, ultimately giving in to cancer months later. So here we are in 2016, half of the band remains, and The Ruts have given it one more shot. And I must say, for a group who’s greatest success came 30-35 years ago, I didn’t expect such a refreshing take on modern music. This is not your father’s punk, this is something different, something more evolved. Take ‘Second Hand Child’ for instance; this is less punk more 70’s folk rock; much like Neil Young, I might add. The guitar starts off very mellow and acoustic but builds; still mellow and acoustic but layered, layered well. In fact, the whole album’s layered amazingly. ‘Peace Bomb’ uses vocal layers, and ambient noise on top of crunchy guitar, not to mention the message of the tune hits home like a ton of bricks.
Music Must Destroy spans across the musical map with songs like ‘Soft City Light’ which has a very shoegaze vibe to it. It knows where it’s going and doesn’t care when it gets there – you’re on their time. ‘Golden Boy,’ which tops off the album, uses a somber tone to add to vocals of loss and longing. It’s also the only time the group makes use of strings on this album. I won’t lie, I start to hear songs like Issac Hayes’s ‘Walk on By.’
However, at their core The Ruts are still a punk band, and that’s readily apparent on the first two singles; ‘Psychic Attack’ and title track ‘Music Must Destroy’. The former uses swooping guitars and pounding drums, effectively bring the song together as true as due north, while the title track, which features long time friend and huge Ruts fan Henry Rollins on vocals, works to implement a chaotic intro which builds to the catchiest lick you may hear on the album. Pair that with lyrics that are as punk as punk can be and an ending as chaotic as the opening.
The Ruts may have made their mark over 30 years ago, but in 2016 Music Must Destroy is very much a call of “never surrender, never surrender”. We’re glad you didn’t.
Music Must Destroy is available via Westworld/Sosumi Recording now.