For anyone who has been following recent developments in the career of Spencer Krug, Dragonslayer won’t come as much of a surprise. Like his recent albums as a member of Wolf Parade and Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown’s latest opts for simpler arrangements, eschewing studio trickery in favour of live-off-the-floor immediacy. “Black Swan” sets sparse, clattering verses against fuzzed-out guitar breaks, which are rawer than anything Krug has produced since his early home recordings. Lead single “Idiot Heart” is similarly immediate, with chugging power chords and a propulsive, disco-infused middle section. Of course, to describe any of Krug’s work as “immediate” is purely relative. The album has plenty of head-scratching moments, from the baffling time signature of “Silver Moons” to the cryptic lyrics of “Dragon’s Lair,” which warns “to say the war is over is to say you are a widow.”
Unfortunately, the bare-bones production means that Dragonslayer lacks the heady delights of Krug’s best work—there’s nothing here that matches “I’ll Believe in Anything” or the ethereal “Stadiums and Shines II.” The closest he comes is “Nightingale/December Song,” with its hypnotic waltz-time strumming and ominously droning organ. New listeners might want to start with one of his earlier albums, but for Krug die-hards, Dragonslayer is yet another worthy addition to his rapidly-expanding canon.