photo: Max Fairclough / EUPH.

Ruel – Bowery Ballroom

People are calling Ruel the new Justin Bieber but that’s not quite the case. His music doesn’t reflect the teenage pop-fluff that comes to mind when you think about the Biebs. However, the way that his teen fan base fawned over the Australian heartthrob last week at the Bowery Ballroom does seem fairly familiar. So too does the label of “prodigy.” Indeed, his love of music began for him all the way back in primary school. And when you watch him perform, that ease and naturalism is apparent right away.

But, all youthful, ingenues aren’t created equal, and Ruel’s melodic tracks are more indie idol than pop prince. Hints of gospel influence pop up as well in his performances of “Hard Sometimes” and “Pain Killer,” a mini choir providing back up vocals. The effect is like some sort Sunday morning church service, instead of the boozy nighttime concert venue that makes up the surrounding environment.

The church service effect actually stretches past the backup choir. Most of the concert-goers seemed to be close to high school age, and the way they reacted to his romantic musical charms, was nothing short of worshipful. And you can see exactly why they worship him. To his fans, Ruel is singing the Gospel of High School awakenings. His music touches on subjects that are intrinsic to every young girl growing up in literally any generation. Ruel’s music is themed around love, fun, and inner peace. And with his smooth, babyface, and crooning vocals, he seems to have the ability to make even someone in their mid-twenties forget for a second that boys are horrible.

Therein lies another distinction between Ruel and The Biebs. As Justin Bieber got older, his boyish sweetness seemed to disappear as quickly as his floppy haircut. That boyish sweetness is still warm and vibrant in Ruel. And his genuine music and disposition make his audience feel hopeful that he might actually stay that way.

Check out Ruel’s latest music video for “Face to Face” below: