Sammy the Seal

[Enter melodramatic sing-sighs]

In vinyl on Sunday, 29 May, 2011 at 1:06

Song: Magic Vs. Midas
Artist: Sunset Rubdown
Album: Random Spirit Lover

Yup, those are the actual “lyrics”. In the booklet, that’s how it reads after the last verse, referring to those whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh’s near the end. So yeah, he has a sense of humor about his oddness. I used to be a bigger fan of Spencer Krug and his SR stuff, the musical flights of fancy, etc. then my affinity shifted to Dan and Handsome Furs and the more driving, passionate, immediacy of those songs. Which is not to say I don’t still enjoy me some SR, even though I haven’t listened to it in a while. Today, though, I worked four hours of extra time and listened to only SR for most of it. This album in particular, I had liked parts of it, but never really got into it as a whole, and so would put the record aside, having listened to it straight through in one sitting. I did today, and it all held together. I mean, it’s certainly not a crowd-pleasing album, especially the middle, but for the first time, really, I appreciated the album as a whole. (Though it’s certainly one that requires patience, so I won’t be pulling it out so often. But at least I won’t be skipping those middle songs so much anymore.)

Anyway, the song… It’s hard to describe what’s good about a Sunset Rubdown song, as it’s hard to pin them down period, without sounding arty or pretentious. I think that’s the appeal of their best songs, it’s something ineffable and intangible, that sounds magical and transcends the mundane. Most songs in general are personal and written small-scale and are often about identifiable, relatable subjects, whereas Spencer’s songs seem more to deal with something greater than the personal, even though the abstract lyricism obscures just what that might be. And personally, I find a comfort in that vastness and unknowableness. (One day, I’ll have “Shut Up I Am Dreaming of Places Where Lovers Have Wings” demonstrate this.) Musically, I can say I quite like the piano, though, on this and on the album as a whole. The guitar, drums, and piano really mesh well with the sing-sigh portion of the song, the last couple of minutes or so. It’s moving and kinda sad, even though you have no clue what the song’s about. Now that is the Sunset Rubdown Effect.

(This is one of those records where all the songs bleed into one another, which is why the track both starts and ends abruptly.)


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