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Ruby: Short-Staffed at the Gene Pool

AAJ Staff By

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This one is pure indulgence. Sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy Short-Staffed at the Gene Pool. Ruby is the moniker adopted by vocalist Lesley Rankine (of grrl-power Silverfish fame) and producer Mark Walk (Pigface, Skinny Puppy). The duo offers pop vocals with a twist: steady insistence on the groove. Rather than sticking to a certain style, Ruby summons the total package—from straight-up rock to disco/lounge, from tricky funk to Latin grooves. Rankine, whose voice is seductively smooth, spans the range from throaty swing to crisp vocal percussion. Her approach is like rap soaked in honey: the chant and the saunter issue forth wrapped up in layers of twist and twirl. (Did someone say trip hop?)

The indulgence part comes from Ruby's self-conscious obsession with the hook. Pop needs its standard bearers, especially when it thumbs its nose at so-called "art." And Ruby does not fall short at all in the craft department. It's the kind of music one doesn't have to suffer to enjoy—and I'll admit I enjoy the other kind, too. If you take a moment to absorb the lyrics, you'll discover some strikingly intense, honest, and visceral poetics. Ruby's words on the subject, from "Lamplight":

"If I bear my fruit, and invite the world to see
If I bear my fruit, would you tear it from my tree..."

In this reviewer's opinion, Short-Staffed at the Gene Pool is ripe for the picking.


Track Listing: Beefheart; Queen of Denial; Lilypad; Waterside; Lamplight; Roses; Grace; Fly; Cargo; Sweet Is; Fuse Again.

Personnel: Lesley Rankine; Mark Walk.

Title: Short-Staffed at the Gene Pool | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

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