Ever since Sunset Rubdown's debut LP Shut Up I Am Dreaming made its welcome and permanent position in my life it has become quite clear that Spencer Krug's side project was threatening to upstage the main event. Now 3 years on and their third album sees the transformation complete. Never before has Wolf Parade sounded more like an afterthought and this band more like the powerhouse it has always threatened to be.
2007's Random Spirit Lover was a studio-built album, almost entirely written while recording and every layer being painstakingly overdubbed and adjusted. The result was tremendous but utterly overwhelming in its size and intensity. Dragonslayer is a totally different story. It is the product of a far more organic recording process with the music being left in its raw state and allowed to grow naturally. Strangely enough, having been born in a contrasting environment, Dragonslayer is just as momentous, but it's also an altogether different creation. Instead of pounding you into blissful submission Dragonslayer sprinkles angel dust in your eyes by way of some truly magnificent compositions and Spencer Krug's writing, which really have no place in a world this cynical.
Random Spirit Lover was all about excess. Almost every song launched into full blown magnitude during the first few bars with Krug filling every corner of each song with frenzied poetry. The first thing you notice about Dragonslayer is the space. The songs are long and the music is allowed time to really explore its territory. Instead of springing out of the blocks most songs here enjoy some of the most sublime introductions I've heard in a long time. Krug makes ambitious music and by gradually raising up these compositions in the way he does here transforms them into stella entities. I never thought he would ever top Shut Up I Am Only Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings from the debut but Idiot Heart comes closer than anything else to stealing that crown. With a chugging guitar intro Krug simmers with brilliant clarity and patience. The instruments keep a low but weighty profile with a glorious guitar circling them with wild abandon. "You can't settle down until the Icarus in your blood drowns" mumbles Krug as the whole intricate construction swells in unison on the wing of this guitar work that never fails to light a fire in your heart in the brief time it is given to fly. In over six minutes in length this song dips and dives, hinting at finishing then changing course and hurtling off again.
Black Swan has a drum beat intro that runs for over a minute which is virtually unheard of from this band. Krug and his musicians explode periodically along this beat but then fade away to leave it running in its beautiful simplicity. The raw production employed on these songs is best seen in the lead guitar. On this song it flares and soars with unbridled energy then drops into the rhythm with expert timing. It really gives this album its feeling of limitlessness as it sings such heart wrenching melodies but with such gruff and gravely textures.
I could write endlessly about some of these songs, the dub rhythmical structure of You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II), the near electro sound that introduces Nightingale/December Song or the moment Camilla Wynne Ingr first utters her soft vocal pearls on Idiot Heart but music this precious should really be left to be experienced. I could write forever but always fall short of capturing the magic that lies in Krug's crazy heart. He sings of shooting stars, magical palaces, kings and queens and mouthfuls of butterfly wings because these are the only concepts that sit comfortably in this vast imagination. By hiding under the sheltering banner of a side project Krug has managed to sneak up the inside lane and rides comfortably upfront. Propelled by bluebird's wings and dragon's flames he's racing ahead as one of todays finest songwriters and with a band this strong behind him there really is no stopping this glorious insanity.
29th Jun 2009 - Tumblr4
Random Spirit Lover
Shut Up I Am Dreaming
Intense, mournful coming-of-age drama. Very stylish and operatic. Terrence Mallick via John Singleton.
21st Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intricately plotted, but seamlessly crafted into a lighthearted modern classic.
20th Oct 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Belated sequel that remixes the original with some success, but the nostalgia runs a little thin.
15th Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
A Beautiful Mind meets the A-Team. Convoluted actioner that doesn’t transcend its premise.
11th Oct 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Solid, uplifting biopic. Well structured with moments of real tension despite the inevitable ending. And 91m.
11th Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Good visuals, nice music, flabby storytelling and a confusing plot. A worthy sequel.
6th Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Convoluted, charmless sequel. A rare misfire from Pixar.
17th Sep 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Andrea Arnold transplants her class observations to the US. Unforgivably long, if beautifully shot.
17th Sep 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Billie Joe Armstrong plays a former star dealing with 40. Good concept, rendered as flat as possible.
16th Sep 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Woefully inept, on-the-nose sci-fi romance. A reasonable concept executed in the worst way possible.
10th Sep 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Nicely directed, but a true story often doesn’t make for a well shaped film.
31st Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Over-complicated, over-stylised mess from a director who clearly fluked his debut.
30th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Overlooked Dr. Suess adaptation from the Minions guys. Charming, but lacking a stand out character.
30th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Utterly standard undercover cop gets in too deep movie.
29th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish modern sci-fi with a clever structure, but it's still a film about subtitled aliens.
24th Aug 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Clever, quirky, black comedy parable that runs out of steam.
23rd Aug 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Despite the good press, it's another shapeless, bloated one-dimensional rough cut from Christopher Nolan.
17th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Ambitious CGI can’t save this bland comic book entry. Cumberbatch’s accent strikes the death blow.
17th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Unchallenging drama investigating life with eating disorders. Occasional Keanu Reeves.
12th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Flawless new-generation animation from Disney. Action, heart, comedy and very catchy songs.
6th Aug 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Intense, terrifying, riveting thriller from Tom Ford. Great performances and assured direction.
22nd Jul 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Reasonable zombie drama. More rewarding than Walking Dead, but still a bit derivative.
14th Jul 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Intense, borderline arthouse Canadian kidnap drama from Atom Egoyan. Ryan Reynolds impresses.
8th Jul 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Self-important, slightly contrived mainstream indie with the one with the good hair from Friends.
8th Jul 2017Read more 3 star reviews
More clichéd Terrence Malick. Amazing cinematography. Meandering improv. Great real-world settings.
6th Jul 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Brutal 80s TV movie, imagining nuclear winter. Age has blended the stock footage to horrifying perfection.
3rd Jul 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Surprisingly charming, sentimental, old style movie with no need for an antagonist. Plus, solid DeNiro.
1st Jul 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Never Go Back
Serviceable action sequel that ticks a lot of boxes without thinking outside of any.
27th Jun 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Totally predictable, thoroughly inspiring animated sing-a-long for the X-Factor generation.
24th Jun 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
B-list, mis-cast, low-ball girl gang comedy. Weak.
19th Jun 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Catastrophically miscast black comedy that fails at every turn. Big let down from star and director.
11th Jun 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Effortless retread of a show that survived well past it's sell-by date.
29th May 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Codswallop that's as indecipherable as every other recent DC movie. Terrible script, hammy acting.
22nd May 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Chaotic, bloated sequel. Low on humour and mostly involving bad guys flying through plate glass.
17th May 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Lazy, half-baked remake/reboot, totally lacking in charm.
17th May 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Wafer thin parenting parable, barely coasting along on the charm of Ferrell and Wahlberg.
16th May 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Classic western tropes burn slowly to an intense finale. Classic Jeff Bridges.
12th May 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Tired, pointless rehash of a franchise that long ran out of steam.
6th May 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Stooges doc that is interesting by default, but dull given that Jim Jarmusch is behind the camera.
28th Apr 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Poingiant doc of the latest Bad Seeds album. Still falls into the usual making-of box.
26th Apr 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Stylish, thought-provoking indie contemplating the weighty responsibilities of parenthood.
22nd Apr 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Great 90s blockbuster, with Harrison Ford carrying the movie on top finger-wagging form.
18th Mar 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Accomplished character piece. Almost stretches itself a bit thin, but it's stylish enough to transcend.
18th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Dated indie classic that uses music to create pseudo-sentimental highs of little real substance.
18th Mar 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Engaging, nostalgic doc which meanders through the rise and rise of 1995’s greatest band ever.
14th Mar 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Quintessential Gus Van Zant. Great art direction, acting and photography. Possibly better with age.
7th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Confident indie comedy-thriller that pitches itself perfectly.
4th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Thoughtful character study, with Eddie Marsan standing up for those who slip through the cracks.
26th Feb 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Brutally fast paced meta-fest, backed up by the most sensible bat-plot for a long time.
16th Feb 2017Read more 4 star reviews