Posted on August 11th, 2009 (11:13 am) by Jessica Davis

Dragonslayer is the most recent release from one of indie rock's busiest musicians, Spencer Krug. As a multi-band musician, he also plays in Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, and Swan Lake, and it’s a wonder how each release takes on its own unique character. Though Dragonslayer has the distinct sound of a Sunset Rubdown album, subtle hints of Wolf Parade hollow in to create a refreshing mix.

The second song on the album, “Idiot Heart” begins with a chunky guitar intro, similar to “The Courtesan Has Sung” from the the group's 2007 release, Random Spirit Lover. However, just before the expected chant begins, the song pulls away with countering guitar and chimed keys. In the background smooth vocals pronounce the first of the album's many references to the heart. At times each song can be overwhelming with clever instrumentals, and biting lyrics, such as “I hope you die in a decent pair of shoes,” to match. Throughout the album it’s interesting to hear the pleasant vocals of Camilla Wynne Ingr, blending with Spencer Krug’s bold tremolo. At points it’s hard to tell what he’s saying, but that’s part of the brilliance of every album he has released; with a bit of lyrical ambiguity the songs can take on a whole new meaning.

The most addicting song on the album is “You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II),” which is a companion piece to “Trumpet Trumpet Toot Toot,” also from Random Spirit Lover. The song starts with a bouncing jungle beat, as a tinny keyboard mixes with layered guitars. The tune is sweet and exciting, being reminiscent of a first meeting between future lovers: “I would like to just follow you a while. I’d like to watch the white flash of your heels as they take turns breaking the desert heat, to beckon me in languages I’ve never learned. I’d like to have you navigate to hills where no musicians live, and on the way decide what bendings of your will you’re willing to forgive.”

“The Black Swan” begins with a distant tapping, as an echoing delay grows then bursts into darkness. The song flows up and down with quiet voices countered by thunderous drums. As Krug puts it so sweetly, “you were hoping for something a little more realistic, you were hoping for the head of the queen.” A screaming guitar and fevered drumming give the song a nightmarish quality. As a happier tune, “Paper Lace” pops in as the words blend and spin. The lyrics are at times hard to understand, but hidden messages resist being labeled nonsensical. As the song questions, “Oh what’s in the world? What’s in the hearts of pretty girls,” it becomes a hole full of hidden answers in itself.

The album closes with “Dragon's Lair”. It is the longest song on the album, lasting just over ten minutes, and it’s easy to get lost in the detailed story it tells. Whether you imagine a fiery dragon, or yourself in dashing armor, rescuing the knight from an evil princess, each clash is in the defense, each whispered word is a step towards victory. The beating of the drum is all that keeps the quest going. It ends, “you are the champion…So you can take me to the dragon’s lair, or you can take me to Rapunzel's windowsill. Either way it is time for a bigger kill…”

A new release from any of Spencer Krug’s projects is exciting, and generally worth listening to on repeat. Although Dragonslayer isn't as immediately attention grabbing as the group's last release, with repeated listens, it's mystery unfolds in way that is both exciting and highly rewarding.

Track List:
1.Silver Moons (4:45)
2.Idiot Heart (6:09)
3.Apollo And The Buffalo And Anna Anna Oh! (5:24)
4.Black Swan (6:55)
5.Paper Lace (3:47)
6.You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II) (5:45)
7.Nightingale/December Song (5:35)
8.Dragon’s Lair (10:27)

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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