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Terrible Noise: Soaring anthems and existential sadness from Moonface

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Spencer Krug is a musician whose side projects sometimes need side projects. Perhaps best known for being half of mid-2000s blog rock darlings (and early adopters of the “Wolf + noun” band name trend) Wolf Parade, Krug has acquired collaborators like a runaway snowball.

His first couple of records under the Moonface moniker were dreamlike investigations of particular instruments (marimbas, organs). In fact, the first Moonface EP literally recounts a dream or series of dreams, and carries you on a journey over the course of its single 20-minute track. But for his third Moonface record, Krug swerved into a quite different lane.

“Heartbreaking Bravery,” the release in question, was recorded with the Finnish instrumental prog band Siinai, and for some readers that might be the only thing about this album they need to know. In a different world, you could imagine this band filling stadiums around the world, set up behind the largest number of lasers ever assembled for commercial purposes. In this world, you’ll probably need to provide your own light show.

Though it feels like arena rock, with its chugging buildups and anthemic climaxes, there is still a sense of isolation, of music you put on only when you’re alone in the house. I contend that nobody does soaring, fist-pumping vocal moments better than Spencer Krug, but he often uses them to put you on your back foot, as it were. Track No. 2, “Yesterday’s Fire,” could be a pretty standard bedroom jam, at least lyrically, but then Krug leans in to remind us how many of the stars outside the window have already burned out.

It’s that lurking sense of the cosmic, I think, that sets him apart as a songwriter, and it is fully in place on “Heartbreaking Bravery,” even though the Moonface of this album is essentially a completely different band than the Moonface of the records before and after it. If you’re an indie kid who has always secretly wanted an airbrushed van with supernovae and burning planets down the sides, this might be the one for you.

• Simon Sizer is the legal and obituary clerk at the Yakima Herald-Republic. He’s constantly prattling on about music, so we gave him this column.

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.

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