Dragonslayer is the fourth Sunset Rubdown release for the prolific Spencer Krug (his other main bands are Swan Lake and Wolf Parade) and it’s an intricate and painstakingly crafted piece of art rock. It begins with two melodic gems, “Silver Moons” and “Idiot Heart,” and then continues to pick up steam and emotional depth as it progresses to the 10-minute epic closer, “Dragon’s Lair.” It’s remarkable how well the album flows, especially considering the complexity of the song structures with their countless melodic and rhythmic twists. This continuity is owed to the quality of the songwriting and to having been largely recorded live in the studio with the whole the band, giving it an organic and spirited feel overall. Lyrically each song qualifies as a short story and Krug works to wring meaning from each phrase with his dramatic vocals. He’s created an alternate universe here, complete with its own references, metaphors, and romanticism, and it’s a treat to explore the many rich phrases and passages. Dragonslayer is neither a casual listen nor a deliberately difficult one — it’s a sprawling and ambitious work that offers rich rewards.

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