City Wrecker EP
(Jagjaguwar/Paper Bag; 2014 )
By Brent Ables | 1 October 2014
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. Maybe you, reader, have wrecked a city or two and moved, or surrendered and turned into a blade of grass on an artificial median somewhere. It ultimately doesn’t matter where you go; “you belong where you are found.” Penticton, Montreal, Helsinki: “rain is simply rain.” It is two thousand and whatever, and we are all homeless.
And Spencer Krug’s Sad Liberace phase carries on. It’s still pretty much Krug and a piano, for now. The next Moonface record will probably be made on an accordion and a hacksaw, so to those who still complain about guitars, I can only suggest patience in the face of an impeccable track record. Piano was Krug’s first instrument, as he has discussed in interviews, and it is likely no coincidence that the two records he has recorded with (mostly) solo piano have been among his most personal and moving. There is an obvious joy in the way these long, solitary compositions unfold, and to those of us who are drawn to this guy’s music like a beacon in the fog, every baroque arpeggio and ominous bass chord is a new text to decipher and memorize. I assume that at this point in his career Krug has shaken off the casual fans anyway; there are only so many eight-minute marimba solos a busy girl can take. But it still bums me out that there are people pining over “I’ll Believe In Anything” when there’s a song called “Daughter of a Dove” on this EP that will make you believe in everything.
It’s not that I don’t miss “old” Krug. It’s that I’m thankful to have the opportunity to know Krug as he gets old. Like Krug, I believe in getting old with grace. But it’s tough when you’ve burned all the bridges except the ones that connect verses to choruses. This is the peculiar sense of melancholy that haunts City Wrecker: the sense of moving nowhere by always being on the move. Not because the only thing we can’t escape is ourselves, but because you belong where you are found and everyone in 2014 is fucking lost. Ever feel like you’re caught in the shuffle, “Running in Place with Everyone”? Krug has your back. Or if that arm hanging out a window on the morning commute is your window to God, there’s a song here for you. It’s “Daughter of a Dove,” and it is quite remarkable. Because, see, you are Spencer Krug, and when you look in the mirror, you see all of your old friends. They are ghosts, and they are hungry. And if the best you can do to pay tribute to them is sputter out some nonsense about a swarm of swallows and the aurora borealis, then write that shit down and sing it twice. Your fans will love you for it.
Aside from its musical merits—like, it’s really beautiful—the City Wrecker EP is interesting in a typical kind of meta-Krug way. Moonface was always very much defined by Krug’s original stated intention to limit any one configuration of the band to a finite time. He seems to draw inspiration from the novelty and challenge of transitioning to a new instrument or even a new band. How appropriate, then, that he’s released an EP which takes as its central theme the “quiet and creeping poison” of the compulsive city wrecker. Krug says of himself, “I have a tendency to wreck the places I live. I am a luster scraper; a green grass imaginer.” Which, as a person—I know this feeling, and it sucks. But I am not a person, I am a music critic. And so I simply observe that Krug’s green-grass-imagining is a very good thing for the world of music—because as long as there are still obscure artifacts of the brass section that Krug hasn’t used on a record yet, we’re likely to keep hearing from Moonface.