Sunset Rubdown's 2007 release, Random Spirit Lover, is an underappreciated tour de force, a sprawling indie-rock epic imbued with a spirit of anarchic glee. This, their third album is as ambitious as its predecessors but mutes the joy in favor of a more serious tone and tighter focus — well, as tight as an album with a 10-minute number called "Dragon's Lair" can be. The results are mixed.
"Idiot Heart" builds from its repetitive beginnings to an intense climax, and Spencer Krug's voice has never sounded more like David Byrne's. But "Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!" and "Nightingale/December Song," though nicely arranged, aren't immediately arresting and don't reward multiple listens, either. And at times Krug sounds almost bored — perhaps he's spreading himself too thin what with this project, Wolf Parade, and Swan Lake.
On the other hand, keyboardist and backing vocalist Camilla Wynne Ingr seems to be having fun, and she may be the breakout star here, a confident, grounding counterpoint to Krug's fragility and eccentricity. Her voice isn't thin, whispery, or syrupy, either. Maybe she can join five other bands now, like every other Canadian indie-rocker.