Trying Not to Be Evil Week, Day 3: I Likes Sunset Rubdown (Wait...That Came Out Wrong)
Out of the 700 or so CD’s that I own, there are only a handful that have ever really mattered to me. Bob Dylan’s “Bringing It All Back Home,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde,” The Smith’s “The Queen is Dead,” The White Stripes “White Blood Cells,” The Doors first album, Love’s “Forever Changes,” Aesop Rock’s “Labor Days,” Outkast’s “ATLiens,” and Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”
This is not to say that there aren’t other albums that I don’t cherish and love. Nor is this a way of saying that these are the best albums of all time. But in my little world, these albums have meant more to me than anything I’ve ever learned at school or at work. These are the albums that if I were trapped on a televised desert island soap opera, I would need to have by my side.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to an album worthy of being added to that list: Sunset Rubdown’s “Shut Up I Am Dreaming” These are big words and I actually didn’t want to write about it on Trying Not to Be Evil Week because this album is so good that writing about it seems like an exercise in futility. I could spend a lifetime trying to the capture the brilliance of the deranged symphony that Krug has created. A dense maze of beautiful symbolist poems, haunting organ licks and raw visceral emotion that explodes in every note.
I knew that I sure as well didn’t want to sound like the Pitchfork review of the album, spewing its typical smart rock critic gibberish. I get it dude, you’re a fan of post-modernism. Do you want a ribbon?
“In his more fleshed-out, metaphysically epic form, Krug consistently finds ways to yoke disparate parts; there's so much inventive stitching, in fact, it makes it tempting to offer a play-by-play with color commentary for every song. Beyond writing catchy tunes and packing them with whispers, mallets, harpsichord, and patches of cheapskate drum machines, he's an intriguing presence. Instead of bubbling along at one level, he roller coasters and raves, mixing nonsense with sharp observations and sadness with puns
Needless to say, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a cheapskate drum machine.
The description that made the most sense about the album came from Skeet On Mischa:
I'd love to say something about Sunset Rubdown, but I can't get past the fourth song on the album; it's just too good. Very haunting and reminds me of that song on that Air album, "10,000 Hz legend" with Buffalo Daughter on it.”
It’s one of those CDs that you put in your car and immediately have to turn off because it’s way way too much to handle when you’re sitting on traffic on a freeway. Too intense. It certain doesn’t bear well to casual listening.
That was exactly how I felt about the album until last week, when I was finally able got past the fourth song. And what I heard is pure unfiltered genius.
Like any great album, it ends perfectly. The last song of the album, “Shut Up I Am Dreaming of Places Where Loves Have Wings,” is a seven and a half minute symphony, a song almost too powerful to want to listen to. It forces you to stop everything you’re doing and just listen.
This album isn’t for everyone. It’s strange unique and weird. As though it would be the perfect soundtrack for a Tim Burton film. The first four or five times I heard it, it didn’t sink. But now it has. I like Arcade Fire and Sufjan Steven’s as much as the next guy, but while I admire the brilliance of those two musicians, nothing they’ve done can match the blistering and savage emotion, pain and beauty wrapped up in “Shut Up I Am Dreaming.” I can’t recommend an album more.