Related Articles: Music, All

Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer

Released on Jagjaguwar, 6/23/09

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sunset Rubdown’s latest release, Dragonslayer, is not one to be passed over or ignored. If there was a spell that made people’s ears perk up in a strange and Spock-like fashion, these Canadians have cast it upon us. For example: I put said album on and within the first twelve minutes had no less than eight people approach to ask - who IS this?

I am not sure Sunset Rubdown can even continue to be classified as a side project anymore considering the success and steady stream of releases from Wolf Parade frontman Spencer Krug. The records, from 2005-present, are anything but a side-thought or an "experimental phase". They are thoughtful and explosive, a more pensive side to Krug; each release gaining in confidence and presence, giving the listener an understanding that this band, this sound and this existence was meant to be.

Dragonslayer is filled with those moments of necessity that make it difficult not to stop and listen to try to get a fuller understanding of the motivational drive behind each twist and turn in the song structures. If you know Wolf Parade then you know that Mr. Krug has quite the voice, at times deep and wavering, at times seemingly flippant and wavering. The ebb and flow of his mid-word cadence is slightly jarring but consistently commanding; Krug certainly has created a signature sound within the craft of vocal styling.

And while I was never a fan of this sound before, with Sunset Rubdown and especially on Dragonslayer, a wonderful middle ground has been discovered and perfected between Krug’s fluctuating vocals, Camilla Wynne Ingr’s harmonies, and the backing additions of Nicol, Robson-Cramer, and Doerksen. Moreover, Spencer Krug is poetic and insightful, his lyrics compelling and confident, and his songwriting spontaneous yet solidly structured. But more so than before Dragonslayer is a collaborative collection of masterful performances by each and every band member -- and there is a density to the album that is reflective of this alliance.

The album opens with “Silver Moons”, a wonderful intro to Sunset Rubdown 101, as it clearly displays the path you have just chosen and many of the emotions you may feel whilst wandering down Dragonslayer Road. It has a ballad-like swing to it, a gentle simplicity backed by wailing guitar lines and urgent vocals that become mantra-like, leading you to your next necessity. “Apollo And The Buffalo And Anna Anna Anna Oh!” is a straight and delightful sing-a-long anthem for the first four minutes and then switches to an almost seventies-style throwback a la Bowie or Reed. Overall, Dragonslayer is just this: straight, delightful, gentle, forceful, and all over the rock map stylistically speaking. It is all things at once and is sure to be one of the top releases of 2009.