In the early 1980’s, as punk was ending its first relevant run, a new style of music emerged from the ashes. A style that was referred to as post-punk, because, well, that’s what it was. Critics have always been pretty lousy about naming emerging styles (see: Indie, New Wave and Electronica). From that scene we saw artists like the Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxie and the Banshees and Echo and the Bunnymen. This style would later be called Goth Rock, as much of the audience would dress in black like some Bela Lugosi stylized black and white Dracula movie, but without the sharp teeth.
Echo and the Bunnymen were the ones that I loved the most and found to be the most relevant. Sure the Cure was amazing, but not like Echo. What Ian McCulloch did in that band with songs like “Lips Like Sugar”, “Seven Seas” and of course “Killing Moon” was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I remember going to my seventh grade dance and watching the Goth kids not dance, but sway melodically with their eyes closed as they absorbed the essence of what McCulloch was trying to convey. It was the first time I’d seen music interpreted like that and I was astounded as the level of conviction these people showed to this style of music. I, myself, could never be that brazen, but I was nonetheless in love with the style and admired the outward immersion that these people put into these bands.
Since Echo broke up in the late ’80’s I haven’t found myself seeing that type of music make a comeback. There’s always a comeback; styles recycle themselves like aluminum cans and people who once loved a style find that nostalgia comforting when the musical landscape seems bleak. Recently, there’s been a buzz about a band named Moonface. I found myself being surprised, because what could a band with such a quirky name bring to the table? Then I realized that great bands often have odd titles. Could it be a curious coincidence that a band bringing back a style that hasn’t been particularly popular or relevant in the past 20 years have moon in their name as Echo spoke of moons so often?
It may be, but I assure you this is no rip off artist. Spencer Krug, formerly of Wolf Parade, Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown and Frog Eyes (I wonder if he likes animals?), has created a beautiful piece of art with his latest release Heartbreaking Bravery. This time he recorded with the backing group Siinai, from Finland. Finland is the perfect setting for this wonderful album. It’s dark, foreboding and cold.
This isn’t Krug’s first time at the rodeo, he’s released numerous albums previously, but this is his most powerful by far. The sounds are huge, powerful and scary. There a sense that your next turn might be your last and that lurking about is something intended to do harm to you. It sounds like a beautifully orchestrated horror scene in an old fashioned nightmare and that is a sound I’ve missed for oh so long. That beautiful, simplistic sound of terror without the screaming, without the obvious recriminations of murder or delusions of grandeur, just a British horror reminiscent of Jack the Ripper more than Rob Zombie and aren’t we all better when we’re a little more on edge? I know I am.
Here is a track from the album to download “Headed For the Door”