Spencer Krug is a musician worth admiring, from his respectable output with (the now defunct) Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Frog Eyes, to the details of his singular but malleable songwriting that seems to favor melody as much as mystery. Now with some free time, Krug has holed up in his house and adopted the moniker Moonface - old news. Debuting with the Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums, the sound was still in the SK style but recorded with looser feel despite the tight control, the instruments more distorted, and the final mix verging on claustrophobic. That was over a year ago, and the downtime saw Wolf Parade’s swan song Expo 86, an album met with reviews that muddled high praise with middling gripes – much like Krug himself. Despite his independence and unchanging songwriting, the production has been what makes each Spencer-touched album a unique entity, and Organ Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped continues that trend. With songs each over six minutes, and only five of them in total, this latest offering as Moonface may be the most divisive thing the man has crafted yet.

First, the title. Much like the Dreamland EP’s subtitle, you know what’s coming. Organ, and a lot of it, in place of parts customized for the natural resonance and rich timbre of the vibraphone makes up the basis of each song, from the melodic layering to the drums. And usually not the sort of lovely Hammond and Leslie organ, but the sharp and insistent Fun Machine type organ made for home use in the ‘60s and ‘70s – you know, the kind with giant push switches to change sounds and a side console for the pre-programmed drum loops. When laid over one another enough, the effect is a dizzying swirl honed only by the restrained mix that often places almost every element dead center save for vital elements (primarily percussive loops or chord drones). That sameness is what gels the album, obviously, but also what spoils its appeal. Krug’s songwriting ability is as strong as ever, but distanced from an extended palette of sounds and limited to the same four organ tonalities, the effect is alternately massive and paltry. If Dreamland seemed excessive with its single 20+ minute track, then the 37’31” of the same organs will undoubtedly be the breaker for half of the listeners. What lies beneath the veneer of shit-organs, though, are some seriously inventive uses of storytelling, as usual from Krug, this time distanced from themselves through the gauzy wall of fuzzed out drones. ‘Fast Peter’ rides one chord but tells of a story of a man who may or may not have influenced Krug (“He told me about it on the balcony while we were high on drugs” is one standout line). Its simple tale of distance and separation is emphasized by the longing vocals, delivered with the earnestness expected. Oh yeah, there are also some pitched up vocals and an extended organ solo to close the eight minute song. ‘Whale Song (Not A Kiss)’ sounds like 11 Old Songs of Mount Eerie’s cousin, and is the closest thing to a paean on the disc. What occurs in each song lyrically becomes the focal point after being exposed to the starkness of each backing. In the end, Krug demonstrates the ability to craft entire stories that reverberate with the listener. The open-endedness of the sentiments carry as much weight as the yearning implied or stated.

’Shit-Hawk in the Snow’ boasts one of the best titles of the year, and defines Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I Hoped musically as a whole: a simple but motorik-like groove that can be exploited for every chord implied within the scale. Craft some lyrics about personal happenings, veil it in a thick layer of metaphor and a thicker layer of overdrive, add in a buoyant arpeggio, and go nuts for as long as feels right. The marathon listening session that is each track gets fatiguing, but that seems to be the point. It’s as if Krug is challenging every boundary of his career to date with the Moonface project. From single track extended compositions to albums dominated by post-Kraut jam ideals, the knowing rebellion against the relatively straightforward movement of previous albums is minor but reverberates. Spencer Krug described the album as, “…like eating a small, heavy piece of cheesecake…” and summed up the experience quite well. After spending the time it takes to listen to Organ Music, one cannot but feel a bit weighed down, fulfilled but overstuffed at the same time. With the combination of this density, the grinding drones change the overall sound; while it is still pop music, chord-wise, the end result is presented in a giant Moire spinner. The self-imposed restraints convey a sense of boredom with the typical Krug-ian writing manner, but the end result works as an archetype of his style, showing growth in sameness.

Oh, and he scores bonus points for the David Byrne melody and delivery to open ‘Loose Heart = Loose Plan,’ since the first line is, “Talking heads make me miss my friends.”