2. Sunset Rubdown — Random Spirit Lover
So here we are. One day away from #1. Eric and I have been faithfully amending our coveted lists since last Friday, and today we stand upon the precipice of the Best Album of 2007. But first things first. You see, first I need to tell you a story about the #2 album of 2007, which used to be the #1 album until the #1 album came out and shifted everything on my list down. But #2 is still just as golden as the day I cracked open that compressed .zip file that held within it the contents of one of the most exciting leaks of 2007.
I had discovered Sunset Rubdown's third LP, Random Spirit Lover, had leaked a full hour before the sun was scheduled to rise in the western Missouri sky on July 27. And I had a choice to make: Having not yet bunked down for the night, was I to sleep a few hours and load Random Spirit Lover onto my iPod with a pair of fresh eyes, or was I to extend the day an additional 58.5 minutes and attempt to make it through before crashing in bed? (Hmm...the difficult decisions we are faced with day in and day out while temporarily unemployed...)
You can probably already guess which path I chose — and it was really the only option to begin with. When you are a student of contemporary independent rock, you listen to every song Spencer Krug is associated with as soon as that song becomes available. You do this because you know there is no musician today who is as prolific or as consistently brilliant as Krug. You know that when you buy into a musical project that bears Krug's name, you are in for an upheaval of your musical expectations, and that this will likely lead to you appreciating a style of music that would sound completely alien coming from anyone else.
The songs on Random Spirit Lover take listeners on a tour rife with delightful mythological excursions, each wrapped in a unique (and often bizarre) instrumentation that usually snowballs, explodes and melts (for example, see the shimmering orgasm that arrives at precisely 3:39 in "Up On Your Leopard..."). From the sparse, double-tracked, nearly acapella performance on "The Courtesan has Sung," to the thick rolling drums that make "The Taming of the Hands..." Sunset Rubdown's most accessible song to date, Random Spirit Lover is more dense and action packed than anything the band has recorded.
This album, though an "album-album" at its core, can also be enjoyed on a track by track basis. Lead track "The Mending of the Gown" establishes the setting for the album (primarily a stage with actors) and showcases some of Krug's most intelligent and mystifying writing yet:
He was a man of many nations — had a hundred souls and hundred to go/He was a man of many nations — two hearts, two hands, it's a slippery slope/He had a fear of being naked, but you're any other man in another man's clothes...
His lyrical prowess continues on "Wicked/Winged Things," where Krug tangles wordplay with religious metaphor:
Well I say "It's just smoke." And you say "It's the hair of ghosts." And I say "It's the white hair of Poseidon ebbing in the tide of some dead sea".../And you say it's some Shroud of Turin and the sun wore it white and the Earth wore it thin, or the Son wore it white and His faith wore it thin...
I got through the entirety of Random Spirit Lover that morning and was exasperated. Today, when I listen to the album front to back, it has nearly the same effect. There are a few "cool down" tracks, like the beautiful and brief closer "Child-Heart Losers," but its near relentless hyperactivity, its unpredictable/unusual arrangements and stunning lyricism make it one of the best records of 2007.
© ScooterDMan 2007 for LISTEN IN. Some rights reserved.