If you loved the Spencer Krug half of the Krug-Boeckner Wolf Parade tunes, there's great news. His other group, Sunset Rubdown, has released one of this year's finest albums of decidedly twisty pop nuggets. If you don't share that love, feel free to stop reading now.
Krug, with his Bowie/Byrne vocal inflections and poetic licenses, is perhaps one of the finest singer/songwriters currently operating. Yet, until recently, Sunset Rubdown was "his other band." You know the kind: good, not great. Actually, Krug's uber lo-fi execution of brilliantly written tunes almost came off as personal musical sabotage.
Consider it a thing of the past, as this album could almost go blow for blow with Apologies to the Queen Mary. The squealing peaks and valleys of opener "Stadiums and Shrines II" are things of rickety beauty; the drunken waltz of "They Took a Vote and Said No" is utterly enrapturing; and the perverse (lyrical and musical) indulgences of "The Men Are Called Horsemen There" are surprisingly poignant.
Still, certain songs, like "Snakes Got a Leg III," are ambling and self-important attempts at anthemic glory that isn't there. Nonetheless, be it dirge or breakneck, Krug remains a talented songwriter. Take "Us Ones in Between," a piano ballad bolstered by a fire-alarm guitar wail and trash-can percussion. With the lyric "I've heard of pious men / and I've heard of dirty fiends / but you don't often hear / of us ones in between," sung above the din, you can almost hear Krug entering the major leagues.