Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover (2007)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

When it comes to Wolf Parade, Spencer Krug has made the band for me and not just because of the absolutely perfect song that is "I'll Believe in Anything". His style of songwriting is just more dense. Boeckner is the brute of the band and Spencer Krug is the poet. This is even clearer when you compare Boeckner's band, The Handsome Furs to Krug's band, Sunset Rubdown. Whereas the former band's album from this same year is the sound of simple pleasures (hooks and synths, oh boy!), Krug takes the high-art route.

Lyrically, he's clearly a storyteller of the highest order, in full control of his densely packed imagination, singing of fantastic worlds inhabited by aristocrats, royalty, magicians and tricksters. Disturbingly cryptic imagery surround each songs' brief stretches of beautifully yearning sincerity, forming a dense labyrinth of lines that will have you reading deeply into the lyrics sheet in ways that few, besides Jeff Magnum perhaps, inspire one to do. But furthermore, unlike the sometimes underwhelming Shut Up I Am Dreaming, the compositions here soundtrack the unpredictability of his freakshow-theater lines perfectly. These songs are ragged yet enormous, spiraling, inspiring, and stunning in their ability to balance intimacy with power. A full minute of trash can percussion, spinning layers of a capella vocals and some of Krugs' most vulgar phrasings unexpectedly erupts into a melody that never leaves your head on "The Courtesans Have Sung". "Stallion" casually creaks and cackles disturbingly under it's woozy piano and dissonant guitar riffs, while "Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot!" basically ascends for 5 minutes straight. But "Magic Vs. Midas" is where the breaths really get taken away. Coming after the sensational rocket-car guitars and feverishly anthemic passages of "The Mending of The Gown", the song is perfect; a comfortably settled series of delicate metaphors, acoustic pickings and charmingly ramshackle crescendos, all held together by some of the greatest poetry of the decade. It's genuinely tragic that the song writing gets just a tad too obtuse in parts of the album's second half. Had Krug treated some of the later slow tracks and transitions ("Setting Vs. Rising", "Child-Heart Losers", sections of "Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns") with the same memorable craft as his centerpieces, this could have been something really special, perhaps even surpassing Wolf Parade's last big release. As it stands though, Random Spirit Lover still contains some of the most magical moments you can find in indie rock today.

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