Spencer Krug plays in bands: There's Wolf Parade, the band he started while still in Frog Eyes, and Swan Lake, the band he started with fellow Frog Eye Carey Mercer and Destroyer's Dan Bejar. Before Swan Lake, though, Krug started Sunset Rubdown, another auxiliary project meant for solo bedroom recording. On Sunset Rubdown's debut, Snake's Got a Leg, his pipes—projecting like Bowie summoning an overwrought punk vocalist—are front and center, accompanied by the whoops and whirrs of toy synths. With the feeling and brevity of a more spacey Guided by Voices, Snake's Got a Leg hits its mark about half of the time. But Krug was busy.
Sunset Rubdown evolved with Krug's progressing devotion: By album two—2006's Shut Up I Am Dreaming—Sunset Rubdown was becoming a real band. Krug's ideas started to coalesce, his vision was clearer and his voice—a malleable and memorable instrument offering a variety of sounds, much like notes squeezed from a trumpet—remained near the front. In fact, Krug's manipulation of his voice's timbre has a certain symbiosis with his lyrics, providing self-reflexive lines like "There's a kid in there/ And he's big and dumb and kinda scared" a proper sense of windlessness nervosity. Here, one starts to see what sets Sunset Rubdown apart—an attention to playfulness over brooding, to regality over blunt force. Sunset Rubdown's third LP, then, is a full-on arrival: The tracks on Random Spirit Lover bounce on piano lines and are held together by slightly overdriven guitar leads and boisterous drums. In bigger band glory, the tunes delve into quiet parts, then build into explosions. It's more dynamic and, fittingly, more evolved. Thanks for letting Krug out of his bedroom. Now we all get a better Sunset Rubdown.
Sunset Rubdown plays Local 506 with Magic Weapon and Johnny & the Moon Friday, Oct. 12, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $8-$10.