Videos by American Songwriter
[Rating: 4 stars]
Spencer Krug may be one of the best right-hand men any band can ask for, but his solo work as Sunset Rubdown has been a necessary outlet for this relentlessly fertile talent to let his quirks fly unhinged. More unabashedly eccentric than would ever suit Wolf Parade, less sentimental than Swan Lake’s bittersweet ardor, and more coherent than Frog Eyes’ loose-fitting oddities, Sunset Rubdown has always been Krug’s conduit for self-exploration. That alone can make his third LP Dragonslayer a slight disappointment, as it breaks from the fitful patchwork, melodic knotting and wildly abstract constructions of 2007’s Random Spirit Lover. Though Krug’s vocal acrobatics and wiry guitars remain at the forefront, this follow-up is far less demanding than its predecessor as it swaps mind-bending production for more forthright band dynamics. More often than not, this pays off in full force, such as with “Idiot Heart”‘s frantic build-and-release and balanced interplay lurking beneath “Black Swan.” At only nine tracks, though, even a few soft spots cast a distracting glare over the rest of the album — a liability that may not hamstring Dragonslayer’s ambitions, but lends just enough to curb Krug’s better instincts.