Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown
(06.2009, Jagjaguwar)
RIYL = Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, Swan Lake

In an age of album leaks, the idea of placing faith in a pre-ordered copy of an album requires a little bit less faith. However, for those strong few (or uninformed few), you can preorder the new Sunset Rubdown and receive a digital version of the album immediately. That being the case, there are scores of Sunset Rubdown fans who are already legally listening to Dragonslayer making now as good a time as any to present this album before people who haven’t (at least yet) purchased this album for consideration. For those who don’t know Sunset Rubdown, the band is the brainchild and former solo project of Wolf Parade/Swan Lake/Frog Eyes contributor, Spencer Krug. There is a common sentiment among Krugian acolytes that Mr. Krug can do no wrong. As a shameless Krug fanboy myself, I must admit that this thought has crossed my mind; however, after my first few listens to Dragonslayer, I found that I wanted to like it a whole lot more than I actually did. It’s not that I didn’t like the album after my first couple listens, it was great – classic Krug – but there was a certain imaginary standard of “beyond greatness” that was somehow left unmet. It is a little bit unfair, I realize, to place such expectations on mere mortals, but it remains true that Krug’s track record hints at his capability for perfection. One initially glaring strain on my out-and-out giving in to Dragonslayer as perfect was that Krug redid “Paper Lace,” a song that was originally recorded and released only a couple of months ago with his other other band, Swan Lake. For an album with only eight songs, the repetition of one already released song seems like a pretty big deal. Not only that, but the Swan Lake version rocks the Sunset Rubdown version. In other places, Krug’s signature lyricisms fell a little short with some phrases that I personally found a little lacking. I was being critical because Random Spirit Lover was my favourite album of 2007 and I loved Shut Up I’m Dreaming even more than that. It’s weird how a little head over heals adoration can make you feel like an artist has a certain obligation to you or that you have some type of quasi-ownership -like stock shares- in the continued success of the band. Well, if you’re a Krug lover and this talk has you worried – don’t. I haven’t abandoned Sunset Rubdown. Most importantly because Sunset Rubdown hasn’t abandoned me. I kept listening. Replaying the album over and over again, not because I felt my initial criticisms were wrong, but because Dragonslayer is…awesome. In fact (as is always the case with Mr. Krug), repeated listens has afforded me the special privilege of peeling away at the layers and layers within these eight tracks and in turn falling absolutely head over heals with this most recent incarnation of indie rock genius that is Sunset Rubdown. Sunset Rubdown does something for me that no other band on the landscape of contemporary music has done for me since I was in junior high. In my explicitly geeky music past, bands like At the Drive-In and Dismemberment Plan drove me to rock out air-guitar style to entire albums in front of the wide mirror in my room. It was pretty much the standard of my school nights: Simpsons, Seinfeld, homework and then rocking out. Sunset Rubdown is the only band left that can provoke such unabashed idolization and air-rock mimicry and it feels good. I listen to these tracks, their gorging drama, their pulsing climaxes, and can do nothing but nod repetitiously with the rhythm and mouth every lyric. That power is in Dragonslayer. And, true to the subliminal connotations of its name, Dragonslayer has some of the grittiest guitar shredding Krug has ever had put to tape. Sunset Rubdown is no longer just a solo project though. This is a full, sincerely talented group of musicians who are, in my opinion, the very best still using guitars, drums, bass the way they were meant to be used. It just doesn’t get better than this. So, do I still want to like this album more than I do? No. If I loved this album any more, my wife would probably ask me to marry it, and that would just be awkward. Scoot over Animal Collective, based on this hat trick of releases from Sunset Rubdown, this blog should’ve been named “Idiot Heart.”


1 comment:

Wooly Mammal said...