For the past three years Spencer Krug has used his Sunset Rubdown alter ego to showcase the offbeat side of personality. In comparison to his work with Wolf Parade, Destroyer, Frog Eyes and Swan Lake, Krug's output as Sunset Rubdown is sonically overwhelming. It will either enthral you, or send you running to MOR safety.
More epic than the bedroom ambience of 2005's Snake's Got a Leg and last year's Shut Up I Am Dreaming!, Random Spirit Lover revolves around huge echo swells, clanging crash cymbals, jangly glockenspiels and strange folk tales. Krug delivers each of the 12 songs as if he's possessed by the spirit of Shane MacGowan, Adam Ant and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! Which is to say, expect the unexpected.
Krug and his three accomplices move from barnstorming indie hoedowns (“The Mending of the Gown”) to complex Arcade Fire-worthy epics such as “Magic vs. Midas,” a song that gradually morphs from a delicate harmonica and glockenspiel ballad into an all consuming slice of alternative Americana.
The song titles point to the Canadian quartet's obsession with myths and magic, a fixation that's underscored on the medieval carnival freakshow of “Up On Your Leopard…” and the Iliad worthy “Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns.”
That fascination with the occult goes further than a few ominous titles. After using samples from A Nightmare Before Christmas on his last album, Krug here grabs a bit of the Edward Scissorhands theme, threading it throughout “The Courtesan Has Sung.” Perhaps mutations of Danny Elfman's goth masterpieces are becoming as much of a Spencer Krug trademark as his distinctive lyrical howl.