While Dan Boeckner’s carved out clear sonic boundaries since Wolf Parade’s disbandment — and the ragged electro of Handsome Furs’ Sound Kapital was among the most cohesive post- Expo 86 collections yet — Spencer Krug’s projects from Swan Lake to Sunset Rubdown continue to meander into left field. To his credit though Krug’s songwriting has been equal parts prolific and ambitious — and for that we have Moonface albums sculpted singularly around marimbas (2010’s Dreamland ) and vibraphones (2011’s deceptively titled Organ Music ). Both were hot messes. Both ruled.
Indeed along with Krug’s batshit obtuse lyricism with Moonface listeners have come to expect a certain musical restlessness. On Heartbreaking Bravery however he loosens the creative reins enlisting Finnish post-prog act — and former tourmate — Siinai as his backing band. At times wincingly heavy handed (“Shitty City”’s Mono-esque metallic flourishes betray its willfully absurd chorus) at times stunningly awkward (see the gratingly skronky Korg on “I’m Not the Phoenix”) Bravery’s collaboration feels ham-fisted — until it doesn’t. Shit actually gets good! For realsies!
Listen I ain’t gonna say that Krug and post-rock work intuitively — they don’t. But nonetheless some impressive moments of chemistry emerge: Krug’s stadium keyboards balance “Yesterday’s Fire”’s drone in futura-E Street fashion; “Faraway Lightning” sounds like a mega-cool neon M83 cityscape with a yelping schizoid bubbling through the white noise; icy palm-muted guitars inform Bravery ’s most hilarious moment on “Teary Eyes” where Krug deadpans that “Teary eyes and bloody lips / Make you look like Stevie Nicks.” Bravery might not be Krug’s finest moment but it’s perhaps his most droll playful and literal — and for that it deserves praise.