The most beloved and respected albums and those that have remained prevalent throughout the years frequently share similar traits: They create an emotional connection to the listener, ebbing and flowing with intensity, all the while keeping hold of the listener’s interest. Their songs are catchy and seemingly simplistic, but with subtle intricacies that allow for multiple plays. However, in “City Wrecker,” Spencer Krug, better known by his stage name Moonface, takes these notions and cavalierly throws them out the window, abiding by no established musical presets or regulations.
Krug’s creation is a melodrama of hyper-romanticized piano chords and arpeggios lacking in any noticeable variation, played beneath Krug’s vocal operatic angst and over-the-top vibrato. In “Running in Place with Everyone” and “Daughter of a Dove,” the listener is greeted by a similar piano melody that echoes an empty sentiment, as though Krug is recording in an abandoned auditorium. This creates an eerie quality to the songs, especially when paired with ambiguous lyrics such as, “In this far-flung hole no bigger than my skull” and “And all of your heroes have left you. And all you have left is all of this water.” In all five songs on “City Wrecker,” Krug refuses to establish any structure to his lyrics, instead singing in vague, disconnected and rambling prose.
In the album’s title track, Krug laments the departure of his beloved from Montreal, continuously repeating the name “Jenny Lee” at the beginning of every phrase, including “Jenny Lee, I know that my behavior was probably partly why you turned into a blade of grass and a blade of steel.” Phrasal repetition is not uncommon in the album, notably in “The Fog,” where Krug echoes the line “Going in and going out again” for the final minute and a half of the song. The repetition of Krug’s voice, piano lines and lyrics form a pseudo-depressive aura that ends up feeling stagnant throughout the album.
There are some instances on “City Wrecker” in which the listener finds some solace from Krug’s sonic anguish. The opening piano lines of “The Fog,” “City Wrecker” and “Running in Place with Everyone” are all evocative of the quick arpeggiated minor chords and pulsing low octaves prevalent in “Metamorphosis,” by minimalist composer Philip Glass, an effect that adds a layer of depth to Krug’s compositions. However, as opposed to Glass’ work, which builds in intensity, Krug’s compositions overall lack a growth of energy. That being said, Krug’s droning piano lines are excitingly reanimated by the addition of peppy synthesizers in “The Fog” and “Daughter of a Dove,” recapturing the listeners’ wandering attention.
“City Wrecker” is clearly an introspective endeavor, made not for a general audience but for a very specific group of peers who share some sort of anguish with Krug and can relate to the macabre tone portrayed by the album. However, due to the lack of rhythmic and melodic variation, the individual songs on “City Wrecker” coalesce into one dark and depressing piece of work, lacking the key qualities that will allow it to be long remembered.