Before he first tasted fame as part of Wolf Parade (QRO live review), Spencer Krug had his own band, Sunset Rubdown, and 2007’s strong Random Spirit Lover (QRO review) looked to make him just as well known for Sunsets as Parades. But while fellow Parade singer Dan Boeckner took a major step forward in his own solo/side-project, Handsome Furs (QRO photos), with this year’s sophomore Furs record, Face Control (QRO review), Krug slips back a bit with the new Dragonslayer. Not a slump, but just not as inspired and original as Lover.
Part of the lack of surprise comes from greater familiarity. With Lover, Krug really emerged from under the Wolf Parade shadow, and his unusual sound, especially in pitched vocals, is now to be expected. From opener “Silver Moons” to closer “Dragon’s Lair”, Sunset Rubdown keeps that pressing, high-instrumented approach, but has a bit of difficultly doing more than what they’ve done before. There are a couple of moments, like the male/female duet (with singer/keyboardist Camilla Wynn Ingr) in “Idiot Heart”, or the march forward anthem of “Dragon’s Lair”, but Dragonslayer doesn’t grab the way Lover did.
Spencer Krug still has a patent on his own, unique delivery, and it’s not surprising that he would want to stay in his personal sandbox. And after the revelatory Lover, he’s got a high standard to live up to. But Sunset Rubdown needs to keep moving forward.