THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2009|
Devotees of the Spencer Krug Guild of Tormented Canadian Wailing rejoice! Sunset Rubdown's third CD is here, and it's worth every bit of geeking out the name implies. Dragonslayer's world is a dark and epic one, a sprawling kingdom under a tumultuous sky that's always threatening to storm. Dedicated followers of the twisting journey are led through twinkling valleys of perfect piano harmonies on "Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!" and attacked with the chaotic dissonance of "Black Swan." Sunset Rubdown is often credited for writing story songs; Dragonslayer is finally a story album.
Sunset Rubdown masterfully orchestrates complex arrangements, mounting choruses and intricately layered instruments with impeccable control, but the songs never feel stiff. "Idiot Heart," the record's standout song, is dripping with emotion. It lures you in with a few conventional power chords, builds a chiming intensity and erupts into paroxysms of energy so that when Camilla Wynne Ingr sings "I hope you die in a decent pair of shoes / you've got a lot of walking to do," you're down for the journey. It's not as heartwrenching as "Mending of the Gown" on Random Spirit Lover, but it comes close.
Krug can't help but recall his other projects. Lyrics "I love you but I hate this city / and I'm no prize" sound an awful lot like Handsome Furs' (a side project of Krug's Wolf Parade bandmate Dan Boeckner)' "Handsome Furs Hate This City." "Paper Lace" is an ominous cover of a track by Swan Lake, which Krug often works with. If you're confused by this self-referential muddle, we can't blame you.
Dragonslayer isn't covering much new territory Krug is doing what he does most, but he does it best. The payoff lies in the retro synths galloping off to war on "Nightingale/December Song" and the victorious warrior coda of "Dragon's Lair." Hey look, you've finally found a CD to LARP to! - Nina Mashurova