Release Date: Sep 16, 2014
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Music Critic Score
How the Music Critic Score works
Buy City Wrecker [EP] from Amazon
City Wrecker is a blunt full-stop on Spencer Krug’s singer-songwriter phase. Last year’s Julia With Blue Jeans On was the sound of Krug at his most exposed; the complex metaphors of his previous work were gone. So too were the spastic structures of his songs. In their place were ten haunting torch songs, performed alone by Spencer at his piano.
If you've ever ruined a city for someone, or had one ruined for you, the title track on Moonface's latest EP hits home. But the artist (real name Spencer Krug) doesn't need to bank on shared experience, so pretty are the piano chords anchoring the tune and so astute the naked prose he turns into poetry. Krug's last LP, Julia With Blue Jeans On, was strictly him and the ivories.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Moonface, aka Spencer Krug, was determined to convince us that he wrote City Wrecker long before Miley Cyrus' infamous 'Wrecking Ball', but really there is no reason for him to worry about drawing such a bizarre comparison between the two. They could not be more staggeringly different. For one stands in a totally different realm to the other and is full of passion, sublime lyricism and rich vocal melodies, (and it does not take a genius to take a guess at which one we're talking about here.) The man behind Moonface has personally identified himself as being something of a 'City Wrecker', which is being someone that wrecks places, not in a physical sense, but a wholly emotional sense.
The City Wrecker EP from prolific Canadian musician/lyricist Spencer Krug under the name of Moonface initially follows the formula of last year's offering, Julia With Blue Jeans On — just Krug and a baby grand piano in his then-home of Helsinki, Finland singing about love and isolation — but quickly reveals some interesting twists that stop this release from feeling like a collection of Julia B-sides. Opening track "The Fog" sounds like it would fit right in on Julia until whirling synths show up nearly two minutes in, quickly asserting the EP as a completely different beast. Krug's voice and lyrics are the same as ever — poetic and eccentric, even when muted — but the few overdubs mark the return of the compositional expertise that led his prior projects, including Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown.
Dear Spencer, You probably don’t remember but I called for an interview just after Sunset Rubdown released Dragonslayer, in 2009, and it was a rainy day in Finland (for you) so halfway through the call a double rainbow hatched outside, and you were grabbing the rest of the band to tell them – and apologising down the phone to me – but the way you described it arching over some weird piece of Finnish civil architecture (a giant metal flower?), and the fact you were collaring people from the support band (who I think were Siinai) to come and see, it seemed like simultaneously the least rock and roll thing, and the most endearingly unselfconscious thing a person could possibly do, and so it made me happy just to hear the commentary, 1,000 miles away. So, anyhow, last week I was on a train from Kristianstad to Malmo, gliding at 200 km/h between dark green pine forests and golden fields studded with a single red deer looking up, and the rain broke for a few minutes. I was doing what all devout fans do before a big new release; namely: bingeing on the back catalogue in chronological order – and just as I reached the lines “I asked you where you want to be buried / and you asked me… the name of the town where I was born” (which I’ve called the single most romantic thing I’ve heard in years), that’s when I saw the rainbow to the southeast of the train, only half an arc in the mud-grey sky, but pointing back to the place we were rushing away from, as if to say “No, really, you can slow down now; you already made it; you've already found enough that’s worth having and seeing and doing.
Spencer Krug has been a wanderer. He’s moved from Montreal to Helsinki and now to Vancouver. He’s also moved from musical project to musical project, from Wolf Parade to Sunset Rubdown to Moonface. And, even as the mostly solo project Moonface, Krug has shifted musical focus from marimba (and “shit drums”) to organ to dramatic rock to solo piano.
Canadian-born musician Spencer Krug formed solo vehicle Moonface around the time his well-loved indie band Wolf Parade went into a state of indefinite dormancy and his other project, Sunset Rubdown, also disbanded. A talented and prolific songwriter, Krug immediately set to work on Moonface, using his first few albums to explore instrumental sketches and conceptual songwriting before moving from Montreal to Helsinki, Finland in 2012. In Finland, Krug put to tape the beautifully spare Moonface album Julia with Blue Jeans On, a lushly desperate collection of songs made with only piano and Krug's wavering, serious vocals.
We know Spencer Krug from his anthemic work in Wolf Parade, the wordy epics of Sunset Rubdown, and his Swan Lake gems with Carey Mercer and Dan Bejar. We’ve watched his songwriting grow stranger and snakier, eventually resulting in sidewinding long-form organ and marimba experiments as Moonface. And, like everything will, even those sounds have faded.
Spencer Krug’s songwriting is elastic. In the past, his sumptuous, warbling melodrama has been able to serve as the framework for larger arrangements, as in his prior outfits Wolf Parade and Swan Lake, as well as the minimalism sprinkled in his sometimes-solo projects Sunset Rubdown and Moonface. Like Sunset Rubdown, Moonface began as Krug alone and eventually expanded to an entire band.
The genius songwriter behind Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Swan Lake, Spencer Krug is no stranger to insular releases or getting so focused on a single instrument that it dominates an entire release (see his marimba recordings for proof). So when he released Julia with Blue Jeans On last year and it was an album of wordy swoons and grand piano (his self-proclaimed “Sad Liberace” moment), it didn’t come as much of a surprise. It seems he’s not quite done with this formula, though.
Hi, my name is Brent and I am a city wrecker. There have been doors broken, windows and preconceptions shattered, hopes and expensive televisions ruined on other people’s floors. Dreams, like lights in the rearview mirror, going in and going out of the fog. Not so much nostalgia as the bitterness of returning to a place whose time I thoroughly wasted on the first go-around.
is available now