Review Summary: Fight for your right to hate the night
There's something about Random Spirit Lover
that reminds me of the rival sacred and secular music worlds. It's not that Krug is either religious or especially not; it's because on “The Mending of the Gown” he drunkenly charges the pulpit of some old glittering cathedral, bottles deposed along the back wall, as he begins his next hobby of singing songs.
“Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns” is the mysterious hymn of that wild and dark but loving spirit. From start to finish of Sunset Rubdown's third LP, Krug maniacally wrests the deserted church through a cathartic storm of key changes, windy atmospheres, bells, insanity, and revelry. “Industrious”, “brilliant”, and “quiet” are all words that have been used to describe Krug, but I'd like to dwell on another: shameless. He has no instinct to limit his creative or pop side, but manages to deliver enough of each to satisfy the other. Krug has called his Sunset Rubdown project (more) “cerebral” (than Wolf Parade) and his “personal brainchild.” That authority enables a tender balance of Krug's colorful character in this group. That balance saves Random Spirit Lover
from death by boredom or extremity.
If you listened to only “The Taming of the Hands That Came Back To Life” or “Setting Vs. Rising” you'd probably like the songs; they're either strikingly catchy or pretty enough to stick to listeners. They also show Sunset Rubdown's quirky guitar lines, instrumentation, and vocal delivery. But if all of that goes down easy, discovering the way this album develops, segues songs, and rises and falls as a whole is a bright victory. Pianos, fuzzy riffs, mallet percussion, and acoustic guitars are ruthlessly exploited for jilting hooks, rhythms, and tonal mutations. But just as “The Courtesan Has Sung” slides from metallic yelping into the timeliest of enchanting choruses, this album maintains a healthy medium amidst all the eccentricity spilling over.
Of this album Krug's said, “I don't hate it. I have hated things that I have put out. Not this one.” And there you have it. Take his word for it. This album is an explosive example of the magic of one of indie rock's most gifted wizards. His lyrics are more mesmerizing than enlightening, but his shameless racing down what appear to be bizarre tonal rabbit trails is all one need hear to fall under his rapturous spell. It garnered the most first place votes of any 2007 album by Pitchfork's readers for a reason.