Spencer Krug’s latest mythical creation Dragonslayer continues Sunset Rubdown’s fabled journey involving tales of Icarus, sorcerers, butterfly wings, and of course – dragons. The busy Krug was involved in Swan Lake’s latest release Enemy Mine earlier this year and much like a schoolchild with a wandering imagination found an outlet in his now burgeoning side-project to Wolf Parade. Creating a follow-up to Random Spirit Lover and Shut Up I Am Dreaming is no easy task. You could argue that it would require the imaginative child to mature into a delirious institutionalized madman to produce eccentricities of the same flavour. Scheduled for release June 23 on Jagjaguwar, Sunset Rubdown’s Dragonslayer is nothing short of absolute lunacy employing fanatical themes and disjoint storytelling to an utmost pinnacle.
The album begins with the introspective track ‘Silver Moons’ as Spencer Krug and Camilla Wynne Ingr share vocals singing, “I believe in growing old with grace, I believe she only loved my face, I believe I acted like a child, making faces at acquired tastes.” The contemplative musings serve as an interlude to the infectious anthem ‘Idiot Heart’ using heavy garage rock riffs comparable to the psychedelic melodies of the Black Keys. With marimba chiming over bass and drums, Krug alludes to Icarus in his attempt to conquer the skies. Using embellished themes and satirising fairytale citations Sunset Rubdown manages to find a way with words that is neither inaccessible nor monotonous, but memorable in its eloquence.
Dragonslayer ushers in Mark Nicol the group’s new bassist and part-time drummer. Sunset Rubdown’s latest album is set apart from their previous releases by retaining a less developed studio sound and tuning the songs with a get-up-and-go live mentality. Listening to Spencer shriek out the words to ‘Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!’ with Camilla’s graceful keyboard tiptoeing in the background the song solicits outlandish uninhibited dancing. Sunset Rubdown is at their loudest on ‘Black Swan’ between rumours of mascara spread throughout a kingdom of hearts and wailing guitars heralding the fall of palisades.
Spencer Krug’s work intertwines with previous efforts when Sunset Rubdown covers Swan Lake’s track ‘Paper Lace’ and as Krug sings, “I see us all as lonely fires that have burned alive as long as we remember” on ‘Nightingale/December Song’ themes from ‘All Fires’ on Swan Lake’s first release Beast Moans are heard. Several of the album’s tracks would not be ill fitting on a Wolf Parade release as the band draws sounds from their multitude of side projects to form an orchestrated kaleidoscope of songs. With each spin, you find a semblance inducing both wistfulness and recollections of childhood fables with a touch of hallucinogenic mysticism.
With the emphasis placed on animal dominance this year in the sphere of indie music Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear now have a close friend in the form of a dragon. Veckatimest and Merriweather Post Pavilion aside, Sunset Rubdown have produced a legendary colossus with their latest release. Dragonslayer has made fairytales that much better – just be weary of burns. Sunset Rubdown heads out on tour early in June, making stops in Victoria, Calgary, Toronto and Montréal. You can find all their tour dates on their website.