Spencer Krug’s side project to the more widely acclaimed Wolf Parade; Sunset Rubdown allows him to explore his songwriting ability.
This review has been used on the bands Myspace and has also been reprinted in various forms for promotion, popping up on a few blogs as well.
‘DargonSlayer’ was one of 2009’s highlights, provoking strong emotional stirrings in your reviewer, as you’ll see.
Vinyl version reviewed
Track List: –
Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna oh!
You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)
Wolf Parade vocalist/keyboardist Spencer Krug’s sideline project Sunset Rubdown – though sideline is probably the wrong word, as in fact he’s now released more LPs through this moniker then he has with Wolf Parade – is an outlet for his more experimental song writing and sounds collages.
‘Dragonslayer’ sees Spencer assembling a fuller band sound this time around, with backing vocal duties performed by former Pony Up!, Camilla Wayne Ingr.
Sounding somewhere between his more famous alter ego and at times The Walkmen and The Psychedelic Furs, this LP is full of interesting and creative moments that encapsulate a feeling of accomplishment and manages to show that he has more strings to his bow than we originally thought.
Though it features only eight tracks, each one is like a mini opera, that features numerous tempo and directional changes, going from all out indie rock to polka to quirky eighties leftfield pop, a multitude of styles that never stray from being both highly engaging and entertaining.
The songs verge on the descriptive and poetic, which paint pictures of love lost and gained through a modern day style fairy tales, that uses a plethora of different animals as analogies and metaphors – such as swans, nightingales and horses. Sometimes the storytelling moves towards the ambiguous, though it’s always delivered honestly and doesn’t come across as pretentious: in fact it’s not a million miles away from ‘At Mount Zoomer’, which also encouraged listeners to brush up on their literately reading skills, if they wanted to get the most out of the album.
Lets have a look at the tracks themselves starting with the opening track ‘Silver Moons’, which has the lush piano tones of Tori Amis and the orchestration beauty of The Dears and Final Fantasy, before Spencers semi- hysterical lyrics sweep in. The familiar tempo and step change just over half way through makes it pre-empt the listener, a trick repeated on most of the album. A glorious start to proceedings and already we have one of the stand out highlights.
‘Idiot Heart’ is more like an attempt to strike a middle ground with a sound not too far from The Killers, but only if they’d come from Montreal rather then Vegas; a brave up-tempo drum rolling strike of a tune which conjures up the Editors for some reason, though in a good way.
Quirky ‘Apollo and the Buffalo and ‘Anna Anna Anna oh!’ could be my favourite of all the tunes, as it has the most interesting melody and jerky chord structure like some eighties ‘Let’s Dance’ Bowie track or even Josef K.
At times it even sounds like the vocals have the hint of The Psychedelic Furs about them. Camilla offers support as this song twists into a blissful classic, the two voices often working well together.
‘Black Swan’ has a slightly disturbing edge to it that goes from sounding like Adam and the Ants to a full on maelstrom of activity which stops and starts all the way through, before yet again the sea change near the end, as it turns into a more interesting indie number.
Side two begins with ‘Paper Lace’ another inspired and goofier tune in which a Pavement like bass line proclaims a false start. The vocals reminded me of Gary Numan era Tubeway Army, more laid back until the tune builds to the exasperated cries of “Stupid house you made, it fell away like paper lace”.
‘You Go On Ahead’ has the sound of Tapes’n’Tapes jamming over Super Mario on the SNES; those crazy tones of old school gaming underpin a slow burner of an indie track.
The electro continues, though this time with a much cooler sounding intro like something Warp would release, bringing in the next track ‘Nightingale/December Song’. A Levellers like folksy tune appears from the mire as the lyrics tell a story of escaping to Nashville.
Some swirling Viennese like synths come in and add some esoteric strains wonderment.
Closing epic ‘Dragons Liar’ slowly builds up over 10 minutes creating a lush sound-scape as the vocals paint a eulogy that features some of the best lyrical work yet. With lines like “I’m sorry I was late, I went blind, I got confetti in my eyes” and the chorus of “You’re not a widower yet” it can only get better, well that’s what I think I’m supposed to gain from this insight. Anyway a great track those just builds and builds ala ‘kissing The Beehive’ off WP ‘At Mount Zoomer’, a joy to behold that just sounds better and better on further plays.
A fitting end to a fine LP that leaves any Wolf Parade fans well and truly satisfied.
All in all pretty much another great set of songs from one of Canada’s finest, where he finds the time I don’t know but I’m glad he does.