With their third album Sunset Rubdown present you with 2 options. (A) You could buy the album and listen to it a lot of times or (B) You could attach a balloon to a hose pipe, turn on the tap as far as it could go and put your face close to the ever expanding sack of tension. The result would be the same except for one difference. With option (B) you would get a more than refreshing blast in the face as the balloon bursts showering you with water. With option (A) the balloon would burst every 30 seconds and instead of a torrent of water pouring out, great birds of prey would launch forth from their captivity showering gold dust from their outstretched wings on any one lucky enough to witness this magical splendor.
Random Spirit Lover tests the elastic limits of both the album as a structure and your listening patience. It is crammed full of the most complex and intricate music heard since their last record and by building tension constantly it looks you square in the eyes and asks "how much are you willing to take?" Spencer Krug is the tour de force behind this project and it was his exquisite turn of phrase that dazzled in last years Shut Up I Am Dreaming. This time it's the grand musical arrangements that sweep you up in their daunting majesty and carry you away to lands never seen by the human eye. The songs give a fleeting glance to convention hinting at chorus and verse but bleed into one-another so completely that it would be impossible to separate this record into singles.
From the word go The Mending Of The Gown comes out of the blocks at an alarming pace. and the pounding piano and screeching guitar do their best to keep up with Krug's impatient vocals that tumble out like a rapid stream of consciousness. The songs are crammed with more instruments than are healthy and with multi layered vocals an all-encompassing wall of sound is created. This is where the listener can easily become overwhelmed but the album is cleverly paced with just enough pauses in this sound barrage to keep you onboard, like the opening drum/vocals on The Courtesan Has Sung. This slight glimpse of space makes the monstrous guitar that welcomes back the wall of sound seem even more thrilling.
Krug's work is always high drama and this album more than most has an unquestionable theatricality to it. His lyrics are steeped in antique narrative and invoke wild, fairy-tale imagery of magicians and courtesans or riding around on leopards throwing dead birds in the air. But with the addition of the music Random Spirit Lover is more akin to an opera both in its scale and ambition and in the fact that quite often you don't have clue what is going on and frequently think about leaving. And this time will come for us all believe me. The first prong of this attack is with the arrival of Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns. It is obviously the stories dream sequence where all rules are forgotten and the song descends into an unbearable spiral of synthesizers that never let up. And they continue through the next track like a nightmarish approach of madness. Thankfully the albums crowning glory rises triumphantly from this hell like a winged savior. The Taming Of The Hands That Came Back To Life is is the song to bring this record back to life. It;s a galloping, sword wielding knight riding into adversity. But sadly its bravery is soon overcome by Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot! Having been kept at bay for so long the fierce wall of sound returns bigger and fiercer than ever. It's wrath quashes our brave Knight into dust as the sound swells to terrifying levels and the entire structure of this record is threatened more than ever.
As you can see this music brings out the drama in us all and that is why it is such a special thing. It's like a girlfriend you just can't stay with but have to make yourself leave. It's a high maintenance ball buster that sometimes you just want to strangle but its ability to thrill at a moments notice and to transport you to far off places makes it virtually impossible to dismiss. It wont be the one you'll settle down with but it will claim a place in your heart forever.