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Sunset Rubdown Gets Oblique and Ambitious

Spencer Krug has long channeled his abstract lyrics and frenzied sound into unconventional projects: Frog Eyes, Wolf Parade, Swan Lake, and his own outlet, Sunset Rubdown. As those bands have won fans — Sunset Rubdown's 2006 album Shut Up I Am Dreaming was a critics' darling — Krug has found extra room to stretch out, as well as freedom for full-on experimentation.

Conceived to help the album flow seamlessly, Random Spirit Lover's track order was laid out long before the songs were even recorded. Krug has said that this blueprint allowed him to develop an organic way of tying songs together in the process of recording. Understandably, it's difficult at times to distinguish when a song melts into the next, but when taken as a whole, the disc sounds complex, manic, and unified.

"The Mending of the Gown" opens Random Spirit Lover with a dense arrangement of angular riffs, prog-rock motifs, and art-rock harmonies. While the song isn't a particularly easy listen, Krug's forceful and even abrasive voice holds it together while the guitars, synths, and drums flail wildly around him. With its oblique references — "He wrote a book about the smell of winter then two, a little less simple to decipher" — Krug's ambitious storytelling rewards those who attempt to decode it for themselves.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Mike Katzif