Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I must've been in a bad mood when I first heard Sunset Rubdown's new album, Dragonslayer (released June 23rd), because I immediately dismissed it as boring and self-indulgent. I even went as far as to think that frontman Spencer Krug was all washed up and had run out of creative juices, as the latest releases from Swan Lake and Wolf Parade (his other projects) left a lot to be desired. After giving Dragonslayer another few listens, however, I've done a complete 180: it's possible that this is the Rubdown's best release yet.
There is only one word that can properly describe the feeling of the album, and that word is epic. Taking cues from the prog-rock masters of the 70's, Krug and co. craft eight ballads of heavy percussion, powerful piano chords, and screaming steel guitars, forming a sound that is overwhelming to the ears, but in the best way possible. The songs are filled with all of the Sunset Rubdown essentials: manic musical arrangements, dramatic key and signature changes, and the moaning vocals we've all come to know and love from one of the most prolific song-writers of our time. The lyrics are also startlingly good, as each masterpiece tells its own story while still taking part in the overarching theme of the album. An exciting new twist on the old style is the increased interplay between Krug and female vocalist Camilla Wynne Ingr, meanwhile the rest of the band tackles more instruments than ever including woodwinds, organs, and synths. I would make track recommendations, but the first seven tracks are so phenomenal that it would be impossible for me to choose (though the "Idiot Heart" single is pretty tasty.) The 11-minute title track and album closer, "Dragon's Lair", though it serves as an ample representation of the album's adventurous style, is actually somewhat of a disappointment and is almost like a failed attempt at recreating Wolf Parade's "Kissing The Beehive." That's OK, though, because the rest of the album more than makes up for any inadequacies. Perhaps the reason Enemy Mine and At Mount Zoomer fell sort of flat was because Krug was devoting all his time to writing and recording this beauty? Check it out, I highly recommend it.

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