If I was forced to pick a specific lineup of my favorite Canadian singer/songwriters since the turn of the decade – a “Mount Rushmore”, if you will – then I would find it impossible to keep Spencer Krug off the list. Apart from being highly prolific in groups like Frog Eyes, Fifths of Seven, Wolf Parade, Swan Lake, and Sunset Rubdown for the better part of the last fifteen years, he’s also managed to keep the majority of the work substantially impressive, with hardly any of it feeling rushed or with a feeling of “file under filler”. After spending the better part of the last four years stripping things down to bare-bones piano almost exclusively, he has emerged in 2016 with both a energetic Wolf Parade reunion, and now another Moonface offering with Helsinki-based band, Siinai.
On their first album together, Heartbreaking Bravery, Krug and Siinai laid an ideal foundation for a debut collaboration with a set of songs that were modest and complementary of each of their talents. It was an indie rock record that didn’t break any ground or turn any heads, but it was solid and almost overlooked for simply being fluid. Their latest outing, My Best Human Face, may end up just like its predecessor and not see the kind of light it should, but I think it improves upon the last release and includes three or four of the most memorable songs Krug has ever written, across any of his bands. Stretching just seven tracks but reaching 40 minutes, this album is the closest a Sunset Rubdown fan can get to that sound since the band bowed out with 2009’s Dragonslayer. The particular strong moments come with the dialed-down anthems, such as “The Nightclub Artiste”, “The Queen of Both Lightness and Dark”, and a still slow but full band version of “City Wrecker” that takes on a new energy here.
Maybe more than any of his immediate contemporaries (Dan Boeckner, Carey Mercer, Dan Bejar), Krug’s lyrics and vocal stylings transplant the listener directly onto the streets of Montreal or the various landscapes of Canada as a whole, and this album is the latest imprint in his evolving legacy. It may only be seen as a minor step to the majority of music fans, but for those of us who have fond memories of the value an album like Random Spirit Lover gave to our overall music taste at an important age, we will read this as a hearken back to a golden age of Krug, at least in spurts.