Release Date: Jun 3, 2016
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
No one could ever accuse Spencer Krug of a taking a languorous approach to his music. Over the last decade, the Canadian singer-songwriter’s output has been torrential: he’s released something like 20 albums and EPs, under an impressive variety of names. The most famous is Wolf Parade, a Montreal quartet whose very name can cause a certain kind of Pitchfork-scouring music fan’s heart to skip a beat: look online and you can find bloggers unironically describing their 2005 debut Apologies to the Queen Mary as “decade-defining”, as if rock music in the noughties changed irrevocably in its wake.
There's a small semantic difference between My Best Human Face and Moonface and Siinai's previous collaboration, 2012's Heartbreaking Bravery. That record was credited to Moonface with Siinai, but here, the two partners are given equal billing. Whether or not it was deliberate, it nevertheless identifies one of the album's biggest strengths: the dynamic interplay between vocalist Spencer Krug (Moonface's sole proprietor, also of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown) and the instrumentalists of Siinai.While Heartbreaking Bravery was excellent, it was Krug singing on top of Siinai's chugging guitars.
Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown showrunner Spencer Krug's fourth studio outing under the Moonface moniker and second go-around with Finnish Krautrock enthusiasts Siinai, My Best Human Face dials back on the wintry, ballad-heavy melodrama of 2012's Heartbreaking Bravery in favor of a more dynamic, Autobahn-ready set of indie rock anti-anthems. Recorded once again in Finland, the seven-track set opens with the oddly heartfelt "Nightclub Artiste," an unabashedly melodic blast of midtempo, shoegazey tomfoolery built around the curious phrase "What you did in front of everyone, in the middle of the night club, in the middle of the night. " Things pick up on the propulsive "Risto's Riff," a bona fide fist-pumper that utilizes all of Siinai's Krautrock might, pairing droning guitars and synths with a perfectly calibrated kick drum, occasionally breaking out of the singular rumble into a glorious punk chorus that declares triumphantly, "At least I'm not a photographer.
A reverent opening of organ sounds and choral vocals merely hints at the joyousness to be found on Moonface & Siinai's second collaborative record, My Best Human Face. With its soft synthesiser sound and slow, methodical rhythm section, the track seems to position itself as a prog-infused take on '80s pop, with Spencer Krug taking on the frontman role with an aplomb we haven't seen in years. His voice croons over the instrumental and a chorus of female voices; starting softly, before reaching for a powerful, euphoric ending.
It’s all go in Camp Krug at the minute. First there was Wolf Parade’s unexpected return, with a flurry of gigs added to the calendar and an EP of new material to boot. Now another of Spencer Krug’s many musical alliances is resurrected in the form of My Best Human Face; a second full-length collaboration with Finnish act Siinai that quickly reaffirms the partnership’s potency.
There is an arrogance inherent to the act of creation. Every single thing that you make is an indirect assertion that the universe, in its present state, is lacking in something and that you can play a part in making it ever-so-slightly closer to whole. If you are someone who creates, in whatever medium or mode your creation manifests itself, then deep down inside, you know this, and it haunts you.
Amongst all the riches of twenty-first-century Canadian independent music, Spencer Krug sits with the likes of Owen Pallett, Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire, with Sunset Rubdown’s – apparently final album – Dragonslayer arguably his high water mark. Now, returning under his Moonface guise for a not-quite-full-length with Finnish instrumentalists Siinai, the result is My Best Human Face. The Finns’ involvement – having worked with Krug for 2012’s Heartbreaking Bravery – is a welcome one.
Spencer Krug's latest record as Moonface ditches the singer/songwriter nakedness of Julia With Blue Jeans On and the City Wrecker EP for a fuller sound. My Best Human Face lands close to the one-off '80s spirit of 2011's Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped, sounding something like a drunken Tangerine Dream soundtrack. The Finnish band Siinai backs Krug, as they did on the excellent Heartbreaking Bravery, but My Best Human Face loses some of that record's focus in favor of freedom.
After releasing two consecutive records of quiet, lonely piano-only music (2013’s Julia with Blue Jeans On and the 2014 City Wrecker EP), the Spencer Krug of guitars, of bleepy synthesizers and occasionally pounding rhythms is back. Earlier this year, his first famous act Wolf Parade announced that the band was reuniting, first with a secret show and then by dropping their first recording of new music in five years. And now he’s followed that development with the release of his latest effort under the Moonface name, the fully electrified My Best Human Face.
Tracking the abundance of Spencer Krug’s output over the last ten years – from Wolf Parade to Sunset Rubdown to Moonface, with Swan Lake and Frog Eyes in between – could overwhelm less-dedicated fans. For those who lost count, this collaboration with Helsinki cosmic rockers Siinai, his second, is a welcoming re-entry point to the enchanted dystopia of Krug’s creative world. Wolf Parade recently played their first US shows in over five years with a sold-out five-night run at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, and as of this writing will soon be trekking through the UK and parts of Europe before circling back to Canada.