Music Reviews
Random Spirit Lover

Sunset Rubdown Random Spirit Lover

(Jagjaguwar) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

Spencer Krug must be looked at scornfully by his indie contemporaries, the ones who are only in one band and release an album every three years, unable to even lay claim to a solo project (I'm looking at you, James Mercer). Note Krug's track record: A pitch-perfect Wolf Parade record in '05, a Swan Lake album in '06 as well as Sunset Rubdown's first album Shut Up I am dreaming, not to mention his continuing contributions to the band Frog Eyes. Add the new Sunset Rubdown album Random Spirit Lover to amount to four albums in three years, none of which sacrifice quality in favor of hasty production. Random Spirit Lover is what is to be expected from Krug and company; frantic, shimmering epics with gargled vocals built on production that mixes equal amounts mud and sugar. Delish.

The sprightly Mending of the Gown kicks things off unexpectedly with a high-energy riff in those occasionally piercing upper octaves. The song rings immediately with consonance and doesn't seem like Sunset Rubdown's usual fair, until the full band joins. The progression under the lively guitar riff brings out the band's slightly atonal, muddy sound. The particularly melodic riff floats over the lower register instruments like a pristine showboat trudging through a river of excrement, and it's beautiful.

The album blends the vigorous numbers alongside mellower, but equally zany tracks such as The Courtesan has Sung. Here Camilla Wynne Ingr's voice add a smoother alternative alongside Krug's agitated vocals as the piece gradually stacks up layers of complicated textures. Random Spirit Lover reaches its apex of grandiosity on Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days. Kind of like a deranged circus march, the song weaves along with disjointed keyboards as the band lets their sideshow freak flag fly. Such theatrics continue on the balladic The Taming of the Hands that Came Back to Life. It's all about the energy employed, rather than musical chops as Sunset Rubdown manage to find a manic beauty in their chaotic world.

Lyrically it's all very verbose, and Krug's vocals are hard enough to decipher anyway. Just assume it's all about otherworldly beings, standards in Spencer Krug songs. The phonetics and rhythmic phrasings of the vocals is where Krug's distinctiveness lies. That's not to say the band doesn't have an ear for an extremely catchy pop melody. As jagged as these songs are, pieces of them will ricochet around your head for days.

Sunset Rubdown keeps one foot tethered to the calm eye of the storm and one in the surrounding frenzy. Grounded enough to know the limits of the listener (songs meander, but only to the confines of their ideas, never tiring out a single theme), but more than adventurous enough to remain extremely exciting.

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