NPR logo Scenes from a Jaunty Rock Opera

Scenes from a Jaunty Rock Opera

They Took a Vote and Said No

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Sunset Rubdown crafts a full-fledged rock opera. hide caption

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "They Took a Vote and Said No"
  • Artist: Sunset Rubdown
  • CD: Shut Up I Am Dreaming
  • Genre: Alternative Rock

Sunset Rubdown's Spencer Krug is known primarily for his role as co-leader of the masterful carnival-rock band Wolf Parade. In his new project, Krug offers up a glimpse of himself as a mad sonic alchemist, as he expands his compositional grasp to create a full-fledged rock opera.

The jaunty "They Took a Vote and Said No" arrives complete with a hummable chorus and a sinister underbelly. Mysterious and nonchalant, Krug sings, "There are things that have to die / so other things can stay alive," as he recounts fragments of a story with no obvious moral. The song builds to a frantic conclusion, bolstered by accordion and deceptively innocent chimes, in the process concocting a colorful nightmare for the characters within.

Symphonic but light-footed, the band's Shut Up I Am Dreaming evokes pockmarked landscapes, as colorful melodies wander down blind alleys and over broken bridges. Krug's voice is a dynamic treasure, as it alternates between a soft mumble and a catapulting warble. On the most anthemic of pieces — "They Took a Vote and Said No" among them — the album's arrangements move forward with all the dramatics of a lavish Broadway musical's cast escaping from a burning building. Sunset Rubdown strives for greatness, and on the way there, it crafts an eccentric, surprisingly rich musical panorama.

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