Never one to shirk the trappings of theatricality, Spencer Krug inhabits a world of verbose fauna, unhinged royalty and unpredictable magic. While the wilder sections of his imagination were tempered in his main project Wolf Parade, now sadly departed, they were given free rein in side-project Sunset Rubdown. Here Krug charted intricate fantasy worlds, raged at the stars, questioned demigods and slept among rose petals. His narrative, inventive lyrics – always central to the appeal of his work – were presented among equally intricate arrangements to create a sometimes dazzling whole.
Strange then that with his new project Moonface, Krug has chosen to almost bury what it was that made him so adored in the first place. Out go the rambling yarns which characterised his previous outings, and in come more conventional pieces about leaving dying towns and fading love. Sure there are still flashes, but the tone is all the more suburban.
What now seems to be lacking lyrically in Krug’s work has, however, been replaced by a rapid evolution in their framing. Debuting Moonface just in 2010, Krug has already seen the project move through the almost self-explanatory ‘Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums’ to the pulsing electronics of ‘Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped’ to its latest incarnation on the dense, guitar-drive ‘With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery’ album. It is as if the restlessness which characterised his songs has taken over Krug in the real world, leaving him to charge from one project to the next regardless of the success of the last.
This is unfortunate for the crowd at the Cargo in London, who are left tonight with a rather standard guitar rock outfit. Flanked by members of Finnish rock band Siinai, the talents have earned Krug a small legion of diehard fans are lost beneath waves of passable, if a little polite, guitar noise. Modern day Bob Dylan fans are probably familiar with the sensation, attempting to pick out fragments of lyrics to identify the song as the music smudges together. Standout ‘Quickfire', I Tried’ and ‘Teary Eyes & Bloody Lips’ briefly break the din, before 'Fast Peter, the standout track from ‘Organ Music’, brings the show to a close amid a smattering of applause.
While it is hard to argue against artistic development - who is to say Krug is not to follow his muse wherever it leads? - here’s hoping the next turn takes him in a completely different direction once again. Much further down this route and listeners might stop following Krug into his imagination.