Most casual observers dismiss Sunset Rubdown as a side project from Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug. Maybe it was because Wolf Parade is on a bigger label, and there was just more hype surrounding the band's debut, but with the fourth Sunset Rubdown album Dragonslayer, hopefully charges of 'side project' will be laid to rest.
It was hard to know what to expect in the weeks leading up to this release after the band's previous album, Random Spirit Lover. That album was great, but you really had to give it time and let the songs emerge through repeated listens. If you were patient, then it paid off as any serious Krug fan will attest to. Dragonslayer however pays of instantly. To be sure, it gets better each time you listen to it, but it's easily the band's most accessible album to date.
The biggest difference is that Dragonslayer is more of a live record. There's not a lot of overdubs or studio tricks and they don't have to 'figure out' how to pull these songs off at a show. Most of the band's previous work were creations of the studio (or Krug sitting in front of some keyboards and a lot of editing software), but Dragonslayer is more of a 'band' album.
Krug's vocals are in rare form and if you didn't like his voice before, nothing here will change that. I think if you were confused by their last record, this newer one will be a welcome addition to your album collection. It sounds like the type of songs Krug wrote for Shut Up I am Dreaming, but with the production and style of his contributions to Wolf Parade.
It was hands-down my favorite record of last year and makes me even more excited for what they'll come up with next.