In November of 2010 Montreal indie-rock heavyweights Wolf Parade announced they would take an extended hiatus to focus on other projects. More often than not one would be forgiven for assuming dread at the utterance of that particular noun. It is not like we as fans wait for these breaks in consistency with bated breath. Personally I prefer my musical artists to keep working but that is neither here nor there when concerning Mr. Spencer Krug (and his Wolf Parade hombre Dan Boeckner) as he, well, never seems to stop producing material. Beyond his ten-yard list of associated acts (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown and Frog Eyes to name a few) Krug is not for lack of activity on his own. In-between the releases of various records linked to Spencer he found time to throw together a surprisingly excellent extended EP; a single twenty minute track made up Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums (2010) showcasing how Krug’s talent with expansive pop had evolved. Dreamland a fitting title as Krug preferred a lyrical foray into a fantasy world populated in mermaids and flower children on an island paradise while constantly chasing, something, anything. Themes not all that alien to his output (can you get more wonderfully nerdy than Sunset Rubdown?) did nothing to hinder the fact that Krug had seemingly opened a new chapter to his music, taking his already immense songwriting talent and tautly stretching it to the supposed limits. Icing on the cake? He gave the damn thing away for free.
A year passes, albums are released, hiatuses underwent and now we have arrived at the obviously impending Moonface full-length debut that reads roughly the same way Krug’s other “solo”-efforts have: insanely appealing as much as it is strangely infuriating. Hovering just over thirty-minutes long with five-tracks Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped is a grab-bag of electronic flourishes and bouncy Organ-driven Indie-Pop with the same whimsical lyricism found on Krug’s other head-trip LPs. Peculiarly though, for once, the entire project just seems a bit rushed. Krug may be hit or miss when not paired with Danny Boeckner but rarely do his projects sound as haphazard as Organ Music… which totes a slapdash aura that is as advantageous as it is damning. Organ Music… is less an “album” and more a collection of five tracks thrown together on a record. Which is preferable to a collection of various EPs even as Krug fails to unite these five tracks under a single guise—something that has otherwise been a key trait to his recordings. Organ Music… does not suffer greatly for it but it is hard to shake the sinking feeling that these songs just do not belong together.
All that being said, as usual when Spencer nails it—He fucking nails it. Take brooding slow burner “Return to the Violence of the Ocean Floor” for example. Washed in radiant keys and organ bleeps that formulate an intoxicating ebb and flow; Krug affixes himself to a similar, watery realm akin to the Dreamland EP yet takes to these waves with a less ramshackle vessel. He chooses an Organ over his Marimba but the constant sense of swelling movement-- a wonderful trait of nearly all his material-- is articulated so excitingly between the first three songs of Organ Music… it is difficult at times to forget that Moonface is not Krug’s primary gig. “Whale Song (Song Instead of a Kiss)” and “Fast Peter” in particular are reasons to stay eager about yet another outlet for Spencer to cough up some brilliant bits of Pop music. The former a similarly brooding and serenely aquatic tune compared to the aforementioned “Return…” yet is more tempered in its pacing. Organ keys begin as rumbles and end as towering walls. While “Fast Peter” is an endearingly entrancing snapshot of presumably the first actual meeting of a couple in the midst of a long-term, long-distance internet relationship. With a massive syncopated beat via drum machine and a multi-layered swell of organ keys Peter comes to life within Krug for about eight minutes. “So Peter loves a girl/The way that only Peter could.” Krug conveys, yet in crafting a tune that ranks with the best to come from his accomplished pen we must add it to the stack. This stack is starting to become quite large and soon reality should set in that truthfully Spencer makes wonky albeit exceptional pop the way that only Spencer could.
With this distinction though comes a certain level of backlash and I do not mean in the sense of a popular approval or critical disposition as much as just an expected level of trash that comes along with the gold. Krug may have proven to be pretty prolific but that does not mean he is always on-point—maybe just most of the time. “Shit Hawk in the Snow” in particular is a prodding exercise in Avant-Pop along the lines of a shitty Sunset Rubdown B-side. And when your album is a five-track excursion every minute is valuable. Thankfully things pick right back up well enough come closer “Loose Heart = Loose Plan” a slightly-New Wave, slightly-Kraut-Rock track sopping in cues to Berlin-era Bowie. The Thin White Duke another loosely prolific and quite exceptional artist who found new life within fractured fantasy worlds and towering Rock n Roll; from this vantage point it looks as if Krug might have a shot at similar heights if he keeps working as diligently as he has.
2. Whale Song (Song Instead of a Kiss)
3. Fast Peter
4. Shit Hawk in the Snow
5. Loose Heart = Loose Plan
More than one artist named Moonface.
1. Spencer Krug of Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, Wolf Parade and Fifths of Seven.... read more