Review Summary: Krug and his compatriots' crowning achievement.
Everyone has heard a love song. Many of them are sappy and involve some repentant declaration of love, lamenting the wrongs the songwriter has committed. Dragonslayer
is Sunset Rubdown’s (specifically Spencer Krug’s) assertion that he had put forth all he could, and that all that is left is acceptance and occasionally sacrifice. Although, he doesn’t leave out the bitter feelings and afterthoughts entwined with imagery of burning fires, falling stars and hateful surroundings.
Sunset Rubdown has incorporated the minutely/multi-faceted sensibilities of pop aesthetics into their frantic aural atmospheres. Their love/hate dichotomy is straightforward throughout, from Idiot Heart’s
“I hope that you die in a decent pair of shoes, you’ve got a lot of long walking to do where you’re going to,” to one of their most splendid tracks of the album Nightingale / December Song
: “Like all fireworks and all sunsets, we all burn in different ways.” It’s not so much that Sunset Rubdown conveys love and hate, it’s that they are able to express the frustration and angst someone will experience after someone who was loved is lost. Nightingale / December Song
is purely an anthem of love that will be relinquished, whereas the album opener Silver Moons
flows through drum trills, fond memories and acceptance, along with an odd parallel to Dan Boeckner and the Handsome Furs: “I love you but I hate this city.” Either homage, or Canada is really just that bad.
Apollo And The Buffalo And Anna Anna Anaa Oh!
could easily be mistaken for a Wolf Parade tune until the track kicks in a bridge, arpeggios ring in tune with the simple drum beat and the lyrical voice of a girl chimes in along with Krug’s. The most aggressive song on Dragonslayer
, Black Swan
mounts a sing-songy tune on top of a tribal beat/rhythm and then erupts into a chorus of musically ascending “oh oh oh oh oh’s.” Once the listener fully explores Dragonslayer
, maneuvering past its up-front pop-defined guitar, keys and ‘cussion, the center of the onion is revealed--a bellowing mess of organically produced noises and effects. This organic growth is masked by overlapping sounds that meld together so seamlessly one might assert that there was more production involved than reality will actually tell us.
The ten-minute-long Dragon’s Lair
is the album’s big finisher, literally and figuratively. At ten plus minutes, Sunset Rubdown walks us through a juxtaposed tale of glory. Krug begs to be taken to either the dragon’s lair or Rapunzel’s windowsill, exclaiming that it’s the time for a “bigger kind of kill.” Balladeering through this song, Krug must decide whether he should follow the standard fairy tale and kill the dragon or if it’s finally time to end the cycle, killing the damsel in distress--or at least the idea of hopelessly attempting to save her--themes of previous tracks all point to the latter. In Dragonslayer
, we have an album of penetrating percussion, sing-songy lyrics, images of loves lost and fairy tales, and a foray into an unestablished, unexplored variant of pop music that is refreshing to hear.