Let’s face it, Spencer Krug is a prolific guy. Not only does he have the time to put together hits with his friends in Wolf Parade, but he also has made several records under the Sunset Rubdown moniker. Dragonslayer is his third proper album under the title, and it’s being released by Jagjaguwar Records.
Since the release of his first album, Shut Up I Am Dreaming, Spencer has enlisted various other members to flesh out his sounds. The most noticeable change on this new album is that Camilla Wynee Ingr plays a more prominent role in singing backing vocals. Her voice does a great job to compliment the sometimes wavering voice of Krug, providing a solid balance to the sound.
Of course, since the first release, we’ve come to expect that the songs of Sunset Rubdown would be grandiose affairs, almost epic in a sense. This album gives you much of the same as almost every song sprawls over the five minute mark. Opener “Silver Moons” is your traditional piano driven Krug tune, and the restraint he uses in staying within the boundaries of the song definitely provide the listener with some of the album’s finer moments.
But, the opener is followed up by three raucous numbers, which those in search of a faster pace to accommodate Spencer will enjoy. While “Idiot Heart” slowly builds towards a calamitous ending, “Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Oh” takes off from the minute it picks up. One of the detractors from this period in the album is that at times there seems to be too much going on in the space of the song. Spencer’s softer side seems to be the most fitting for his voice in this setting, and when he goes into other territory, the songs seem a bit strained. “Black Swan” is one of those numbers that seems to struggle with too much going on within the song.
As always, this man can pen some absolutely wonderful songs within the span of an album. “Paper Lace” is one such song where you realize just how perfect he can be. Keyboard and guitars seem to just hang in thin air, while his voice never seems to falter one single bit. If only he could consistently knock out ballads like this every time out. And it also serves as the song that kicks off the best moments of the album.
“You Go On Ahead” and “Nightingale/December Song” are some of the best moments on this album. Here the band finally has all the pieces of the cryptic puzzle put together. Tribal drums dully rumble beneath the songs as Ingr’s vocal accompaniment displays the depth of the line-up. When the sprawling tunes sound this strong it’s hard to see look back and see where the album ever took a misstep.
Then we close it out with “Dragon’s Lair.” It’s the ten minute epic that caps off this record perfectly. It combines all the elements that you’ve witnessed on the album early on, and it puts them in a one-song extravaganza to encapsulate all the ideas posed by Spencer and the rest of Sunset Rubdown. It’s a fitting end to a splendid story.
Download: Sunset Rubdown – Paper Lace [MP3]