Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Song from Sunset Rubdown: 'Idiot Heart'

Sunset Rubdown have offered up a substantial aperitif to get us primed for their new album, Dragonslayer, due on June 23. The six-minute-long “Idiot Heart” is now available for free download. Just click here. On the idiot spectrum, it's way better than "American Idiot," not nearly as good as "Idiot Wind." But that really doesn't tell you much.

From this track’s very first moment, you know it’s Sunset Rubdown. There are those reverby electric guitar chords, distorted to the point of sounding like not just the strings but the guitar itself is made entirely of metal.

A second guitar starts spitting back, panned to the opposite side and full of a ’70s-esque, fuzzy distortion. The sound borders on Boston, which turns out to be prognostic: the entire song is pretty heavily produced for Sunset Rubdown. Some chimes join in, then a halting rhythm section and a spacey lead guitar, and we’re off.

The song reaches high, and it’s better off for it. The big problem with Random Spirit Lover, the group’s 2007 LP, was that it was full of songs that threatened to get stuck in your head but lost their adhesive as soon as they faded out. (Take “The Mending of the Gown,” for instance.) The album was also undisciplined, filled with wordy meanderings that made Sunset Rubdown too easy to write off as the back-alley open mic joint where frontman Spencer Krug went to recite the crap he’d written but wasn’t sure enough about to bring to his brightest buddies (that would be Wolf Parade). But in turning up the focus, Sunset Rubdown is also running the risk of losing its spark and sounding a touch too rehearsed.

If we’re lucky Dragonslayer will achieve the balance between grating and grabbing that the boys struck last time around on “The Courtesan Has Sung.”

For now, I’m pretty glad to have “Idiot Heart.”

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