Julia with Blue Jeans On is Spencer Krug’s latest solo offering under his Moonface alias.

It’s hauntingly sparse, only Krug’s voice and a piano, and what’s immediately apparent is that Krug is an absolutely amazing pianist. The lush arrangements and frantic, fluttering melodies are mesmerizing and terrifying – it’s surprisingly easy to get fully and wonderfully lost, completely forgetting that it’s just one man on a piano.

The album is unbelievably jarring, almost disconcertingly so. Usually surrounded by a swirl of jagged guitars and a caterwaul of instruments, his rickety, operatic vocals are uncomfortably front-and-centre, extremely exposed. It’s that vulnerability and discomfort that make Julia with Blue Jeans On so heartbreakingly beautiful.

“Let me put one hand on the small of your back/And let me have this dance,” he sings on “November 2011” in a lavish and rich lament. “Baby, we both know we are both crazy.”

Gone are the overblown conceptual arcs about dragons and other fantastic ephemera. Julia with Blue Jeans On is Krug at his most emotional and vulnerable.

“We got way too close way too quickly/To hopefulness to which we are both hopelessly addicted,” he croons on the closing track “Your Chariot Awaits” and the pain and beauty in his voice is overwhelming as he admits, “It’s always worse at 4:30 in the morning.”

Where his foray into sludgy indie rock with the Finnish band Siinai on 2012’s With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery was an angry, spiteful eulogy of a messy breakup, this album is the aftermath – pensive, mournful and tragically gorgeous.

By Nick Laugher

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