Thursday, September 17, 2009

Record Review: Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

For Stomp and Stammer:

Sunset Rubdown

If you can stand Spencer Krug's voice long enough to get through this whole album, then man, are you in for a treat. The solo recording project that has evolved into an honest-to-god band returns post-breakthrough with Dragonslayer, the follow-up to their 2007 release Random Spirit Lover. RSL was a leap forward for the band, compositionally, and while Dragonslayer demonstrates yet again the group's abilities with intelligent instrumentals and incisive lyricism, the critics don't seem to be falling over themselves with praise because it's nothing we didn't discover they could do last time.

Which isn't to say Sunset Rubdown isn't growing or that Dragonslayer isn't a phenomenal record. Maybe it's better as an under-the-radar list-topper. All the songs contain more than they seem to at first, and expand outward from their gorgeous, melody-driven centers. Meshing imaginative synth keys and the ever-present clean guitar riff around lyrics with sentiments that range from wry to romantic (fairy tales and classical mythology pop up all over) to just startlingly descriptive, Krug (Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes) and co. create a whole world you can just stroll right into – one that rhymes frequently, too. Take for an example this line from the almost tropical "Paper Lace": "There's nothing left inside the room you filled with lion skins and laurels. Those were good ideas, but they weren't diamonds and pearls." After the verse and chorus repeat a couple of times, it launches into a B-section à la Okkervil River that ups the nostalgia and stylistic punch before returning to the original theme. Though the structure isn't unique, it puts Sunset Rubdown in good company, reserving their spot among the best working in the modern songwriting tradition...[Read more]

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