REVIEW: Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
Zach Hart Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Spencer Krug is a musical genius. There, I said it. I officially put him in the contemporary musical genius hall of fame alongside Matthew Friedberger, Jack White, Thom York, Alden Penner, Win Butler and Wayne Coyne. I’m a fan of both Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes (Spencer Krug is a member of both) but with the release of "Dragonslayer", Sunset Rubdown can move away from being called a side project and eclipse the all-powerful Wolf Parade. I’ve been talking up this album for a few weeks and I can’t seem to get anybody on board the Sunset Rubdown train with me. A lot of people bring up the case that it sounds like a side project, just something for Krug to do on his downtime. I couldn’t disagree with this more; the arrangements on each of Rubdown’s songs are lush and complicated...a lot of time/thought went into this album Putting this aside, I would still argue that Wolf Parade is the side project; we just need to look at the facts. First, Krug worked on Rubdown’s first LP, “Snakes Got A Leg” from 2001-2004, finally releasing it July of 2005. Wolf Parade first released their four song EP in 2003, a six track EP in 2004, the full EP in 2005 on Sub Pop, and then finally offered up their first LP, “Apologies To Queen Mary” September of 2005. So, Krug worked on Rubdown and released an LP before Parade. Secondly, just look at the discography. "Dragonslayer" will be Krug’s forth LP while Wolf Parade has two. With all this evidence, people still seem to brush Rubdown off to the side, leaving me to conclude that if you’re in multiple bands, the majority of people will consider whatever band is the most popular to be your main focus. I, however, will not, and consider Rubdown to be Krug’s main band…everything else are side projects.
Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system, let’s move on to reviewing the album. The first track, “Silver Moons” begins with a somber piano, quickly joined with a tambourine, marking the beginning of a very cinematic journey through sound. I immediately recognized that Camilla Ingr would be playing a huge role on this album, as she sings throughout. Ingr’s voice is the perfect compliment to Krug’s sometime off key, packed to the brim with emotion, voice. The result is breathtaking. In food terms, Ingr is like a nice sherbet and Krug is the spicy entrée you enjoyed before. That kind of worked. Moving on. Like all great things in life, the beauty of "Dragonslayer" is revealed in the small details. This is why I encourage listeners to put on the headphones and play the album start to finish without jumping around. The guitar is really the superstar on this album, marching in the front, blazing away, while the synth, drums, and bass act as a masterful supporting cast. I could gush all day about this album, but the point has been made…all that’s left is for you to go experience it yourself.
The albums of 2009 have really shattered my previous image as the WLFY reviewer who refused to give an album anything over a 9.0. I started off giving Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” a 9.8…a pretty big error looking back. I followed this by giving out my first perfect score to the self titled Clues album and now hand Sunset Rubdown a 9.5. I stand by these two scores and feel like “Pavillion” should be a 9.0 because I feel like “Pavillion” no longer poses any challenge…I get it…it’s a fun album. Clues and Rubdown on the other hand challenge me every listen and I always pick up something new that leaves me grinning from ear to ear. Krug has done a masterful job on this album and has set the bar very high for his main project, Sunset Rubdown, to try to jump over with their next release.
(Drowned In Sound gave the album a perfect score. Read their review HERE)