It seems entirely unfair to label Sunset Rubdown a side project. The band, the brainchild of Wolf Parade co-founder Spencer Krug, began as a series of lo-fi recordings Krug produced and recorded by his lonesome and which then morphed into the highly-skilled, wildly-confident, incredibly tight unit it is today.
The band’s latest is last week’s Dragonslayer another solid collection of epic prog-like whimsy filled with the type of imagery and imagination that’ll make even the most jaded D&D fan swoon. The songs on Dragonslayer include references to disgruntled kings, lost loves, silver moons and the aforementioned dragonslayers. This is the band’s second LP for Bloomington’s Jagjaguwar (Secretly Canadian’s kissing cousin) and it improves on nearly everything from their debut for the label, 2007’s Random Spirit Lover.
The songs on Dragonslayer are long but never meandering, like the best prog-inspired rock they feel composed with a purpose in mind, everything fits together in the end and everything leading up to the conclusion is entirely necessary. This is true on standouts like “Black Swan”, “Idiot Heart” and personal favorite, “You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)” which has burned a permanent spot in my daily rotation for the last couple weeks when NPR initially previewed the new LP at their website. The new LP sounds more like a co-production as well with Krug backed ably by keyboardist/vocalist/dreamboat Camilla Wynne Ingr who adds subtle grace to each song; her voice is never obtrusive or lost in the muddle.
A friend of mine once compared Wolf Parade vocals to ghosts singing and it’s an apt description. Krug sings about half the Wolf Parade catalog (guitarist Dan Boeckner sings the other half) and the entire Sunset Rubdown catalog. His voice can go both high and low and definitely contains a supernatural element; floating in and out on ethers, guiding the way through the endless dark.