September 28th, 2018 | Album reviews

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Blue Hour

Ruby Haunt makes nocturnes for modern night owls—insomniacs, twilight drivers, and nervous souls with restless brains and tired bodies. The indietronica duo (Wyatt Ininns and Viktor Pakpour) has pursued this drowsy, atmospheric sound since establishing itself in Los Angeles three years ago, and though their synthesized music shimmers with a pop phosphorescence clearly distinct from Debussy or Chopin’s classical nocturnes, it conjures moonlit imagery just the same. Innin’s lyrical minimalism and Pakpour’s production—a kind of dreamy new wave that echoes early New Order and mid-2000s M83—makes for a pairing that practically glows. Admittedly, consistency like this sometimes slides into creative complacency, and despite its place as Innin and Pakpour’s third full-length, Blue Hour is hardly distinct from older Ruby Haunt releases. Aside from opener “Sucker” and closer “It Will Happen the Next Time Around,” it’s a seamless extension of the band’s debut and sophomore albums, Haunt and Sugar. If it was the conclusion of a trilogy, Blue Hour would make a fitting finale. But that’s not the case, and the lack of experimentation is frustrating. Longtime fans hoping for the unexpected may wonder: is the duo simply too comfortable in their current space? Good music is still good music, and Innin and Pakpour’s talent for evocative synth ballads is far from fading. Those fond of Ruby Haunt’s trademark midnight songs will still find solace in Blue Hour’s resolute commitment to its sound and feeling, but they may envy new listeners who get to make this twilight drive for the first time.

Sydney Sweeney