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Moonface Releases “Julia with Blue Jeans On”

Jimmy Kemper | Monday, October 28, 2013

Spencer Krug is a man with many masks, showing several different sides and much creativity in his work on his cult darlings Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade and Swan Lake, and on his solo project, Moonface. On his third LP under the name “Moonface,” “Julia with Blue Jeans On,” Krug removes all the masks, leaving everything bare in a simple but incredibly moving album.

“Julia with Blue Jeans On” began with an upright piano Krug bought with the intention of revitalizing his connection with the instrument. “I played it in my teens and in my early 20s, then I moved over to rock bands and I forgot how to properly play the instrument,” Krug says. “I’m not an accomplished pianist by any means, and never have been, but the way I play piano lends itself to a pseudo-classical style. … It’s really fun to write that stuff.” When making this album, Krug moved from his home in Montreal to Helsinki, Finland, to change his creative influences.

This album is different from all of Krug’s previous works, as he only employs his piano and his voice throughout all 10 tracks. As limited of a musical arsenal as this may seem, Krug brings out the big guns and blows the listener out of the water, proving he does not need layers of backup instrumentation and advanced electronics to powerfully convey a wide range of emotions. This stunningly intimate LP is a breath of fresh air in a musical scene filled with overhyped, overproduced records. 

Particularly notable about this album is that, despite the narrow constraints he has placed himself within, Krug still manages to make every song unique, never allowing the record to grow stale. Modern lyrics overlay the 10 classical tracks filled with trills, arpeggios and sweeping key changes. “Julia with Blue Jeans On” opens with “Barbarian,” a raw epic track that could easily be found on a movie soundtrack. Krug’s distinctive, powerful warbling carries each song, but the piano playing is not to be overlooked. His talent is particularly evident in the lengthy instrumental breakdowns in “Dreamy Summer” and the album-closer, “Your Chariot Awaits,” which is by far one of the most interesting songs I have heard this year. Krug commands the piano eloquently; his classical compositional style allows for an unpredictable musicality and grandiose that is incredibly rare in solo performances.

In addition to the great piano performance, the deepness of the lyrics is absolutely stunning. Krug uses language economically to create incredibly vivid imagery. This is especially clear in “Barbarian” and the title track, “Julia with Blue Jeans On.” “Barbarian” focuses on the idea of being a stranger in a foreign land while the latter concentrates simply on a woman at the bottom of the stairs. As simple an idea as that may seem, Krug paints a beautiful picture with his words and even manages to pepper some wry humor into very intimate songs.  

This album is a nice return to simplicity in a world that exponentially grows more complicated, but it is simply that. It does not push music forward in new directions, but burrows deeper into its most intimate roots. This is not a revolution, but a restoration of the elements that make music special. This album exposes the rawer, more visceral side of Krug. And because of that, “Julia with Blue Jeans On” should definitely be on your radar. 

“Julia with Blue Jeans On” is available for purchase Tuesday. 

Contact Jimmy Kemper at
jkemper2@nd.edu