Oct 9, 2007

Random Spirit Lover-Sunset Rubdown

A man. At a piano. Inspiration. A revelation. An irrational and unconscious burst of creativity. Where does this come from? Do the artists know themselves? Craft will only take you so far. Only pure and faultless artistic creativity will manufacture art of a supreme nature. In the wide ocean of musical endeavour there is lot of plankton and backwash and there are few shining beacons guiding us to shore. Sometimes a beacon shines so brightly it obliterates all that surrounds it. Spencer Krug is a beacon, guiding us all safely, whilst we try to keep our heads above water. In a world of 2 minute pop wonders, soporific charlatans and droning dullards Spencer Krug shows us all that one person can create art that is supremely intelligent, inventive and indescribably beautiful. If you thought "Shut Up I Am Dreaming" was a work of pure artistic gold, you were right. Well, "Random Spirit Lover" is even better. A manuscript of perfectly formed strokes, it will astound you with its profound depth and breath taking and glorious beauty. This is an album in the true sense, each and every song is in the right place. Each track seamlessly merges into the next, creating a tapestry of richness that is seldom achieved. Here is my track by track review-

The Mending Of The Gown
A joyous, triumphant song of tremendous momentum. This really kicks off the album perfectly, a splendid romp with great backing vocals from Camilla. This song name checks the album title and like many other songs on this masterpiece I still have no firm grip what Spencer is singing about. Just know this, it is beautiful and monumental.

Magic Vs. Midas
Quite, hushed tones greet us. Spencer barely whispers into the microphone over the top of minimal instrumentation. A song about deception and trickery, the piano here is just gorgeous and the drumming will sweep you away about two thirds in. This song continues to grow on me, Spencer's plaintive singing will scorch your heart.

Up On Your Leopard, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days - MP3
A pounding, throbbing song. An instant classic, Spencer veritably spits out the lyrics of a man who has led the high life but who now has fallen to earth. When he sings "I’m the one who sat at your capture and let the snow fall on this whispering rapture" your heart might skip a beat. This song changes gears over and over till it explodes with delight. A blast of glorious ecstasy.

The Courtesan Has Sung
Rhythmical and syncopated, themes of actors and whores abound. Almost choral like, this song echoes back and forth. One of the best sounding songs on the album, it has an almost mediaeval feel. An absolute grower for sure.

Winged/Wicked Things - MP3
An epic song, amazing power is channelled through powering guitar work. Seems to be about the chaotic nature of love, but then what do I know? This is thrilling music, enough power to fill an entire energy grid.

Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns
In comparative terms, a lesser song. But still evocative and intriguing. Slow and ethereal, Camilla takes the vocals. Somewhat dirge like, it probably doesn't quite stand up to the magnitude of the rest of the album, but does serve as a nice interlude.

The very definition of a grower. A noble tale of a proud beast, this song builds and builds, starting gracefully with piano before ascending to an emotional overflow at the end. This song showcases one of the things I love about Spencer Krug. His songs are impeccably timed and when he hits an emotional high, he hits it like no one else.

For The Pier (And Dead Shimmering)
Sumptuous, epic and sheer heart palpitating resplendency. Delicious and delightful. A harp like instrument (zither perhaps?) kicks things off. This song shimmers and glistens before exploding into joy when Spencer sings "I'll be out until the shimmering dies" (goose bump time). To me this is a song of epic love and devotion, a cry of sacrifice and surrender. Beauty never sounded so good.

The Taming Of The Hands That Came Back To Life
Yeah, we know, song of the year. Pounding drums and a clarion call will have your spine tingling. Epic is an understatement. A mystery wrapped in a riddle, full of humour and wit, at its worst it's guaranteed to make your head spin. At its best it will make your heart burgeon and burst.
"Will you live in the physical world?
With the sun setting low and the shadows unfurled
Can you live with the way they make you look unreal?"

Setting Vs. Rising
A breather, only a short song. Delightful and tender. A look at how you view the world. Do you see the sun setting or does your imagination picture it rising somewhere else. Glorious piano abounds on this song too.

Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot!
A force of nature, a tempestuous outburst of cyclonic impact. Thrilling and threatening all at once, quite majestic and magnificent. The theme of actors return, seems to be about stripping an actor of his vestiges and asking him to walk naked into the world. Will quite possibly kill to see this played live.

Child-Heart Losers
A perfect end. Tranquil and unruffled, Spencer sighs and murmurs with Camilla backing him up. Indescribable beauty, I swoon with awe. I pause and hit repeat.

Complete and consummate. Majestic and monumental. Personal and intimate. A statement of beauty and elegance. A band maturing before our very eyes. A complete band too, drums, vocals and guitars all ably assist Spencer Krug in achieving his accomplishments. I think "Shut Up I Am Dreaming" was a more direct and personal statement, but "Random Spirit Lover" has many more layers. Lyrically the themes are stories of grandiose actions and epic encounters, but each line of each song has a meaning, that although mysterious, unfolds a personal story too. There is just so much on offer here. The attention to detail is impeccable and Spencer's voice has never sounded better. If you think he is just yelping and howling, think again. For his is a voice that clarifies, elucidates and illuminates. It is a vein of pure gold. Whatever you need from a piece of music "Random Spirit Lover" will deliver it to you in multitudes. The frightening thing is, I believe Spencer Krug has only scratched the surface of his innate talent to infuse us with his sublime gifts. Spencer, where did you learn to sing with such grace?


  • At October 10, 2007 , Anonymous Karen said...

    I think even though this album is just as (maybe more?) complex lyrically and musically than Shut Up I Am Dreaming, for some reason I related to the sound of it more quickly.

    Also, as much as I am a fan of Sunset Rubdown and Spencer generally, there's this selfish little piece of me that hopes like mad the band doesn't get so big that Spencer lets go of Wolf Parade. Because that would be a tragedy. For this girl at least ;) They have to tour Australia before he goes and does anything like that!

  • At October 10, 2007 , Blogger Bill said...

    I can't believe how much I'm loving the album, and I'm going to see them live in Philly tonight. I can't wait. I haven't seen Spencer live yet, so I'm pretty excited. Loved your review, by the way, but I was already pretty certain you were going to love the album as much as me.

    Oh, and I found out that an author I like has a new novel coming out in the spring titled "Us Ones in Between." I emailed him and he confirmed that yes indeed, he's a Spencer fan.

  • At October 11, 2007 , Blogger Rachel said...

    Awesome review Wayne indeed. Bask in Spencer's glory ;-)

  • At October 11, 2007 , Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

    I'm writing my Stylus review today. I want to just write two sentences.

    This is brilliant. If you don't think so, I feel sorry for you.

    I was thinking is this my album of the year of is the EL-P record. Then I decided that the EL-P record is probably a career masterpiece. As you mentioned with S.R., this might just be scratching the surface. Kid's on a Bob Dylan/Neil Young run of greatness right now and thankfully most of the the media hasn't gotten on yet.

  • At October 12, 2007 , Blogger Lawson said...

    ARGH! I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive 'express post' (yeah right) from the label! Way to get me frustrated and excited!

  • At November 01, 2007 , Blogger Jon said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At November 01, 2007 , Blogger Jon said...

    Thanks so much, Wayne, for this fantastic review. Beautifully written.
    Given that most of the reviews and most of my friends have only been lukewarm to mildly excited about the album, I was starting to think I was going insane in my obsession with it, and even more insane in thinking that it might be one of the best albums (both lyrically and musically) of the last five years. Now I see that someone who can write so well and think so clearly has similar feelings, I'll cancel that call I made for a mental hospital paddywagon. And listen to the album for the 90th time.
    "I don't close my eyes when I'm dancing the same way I close my eyes in my lover's cluthes."


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