Personnel: Spencer Krug (vocals, guitar, keyboards); JPJ, Marieke Voorhoeve, Amy Weinberg, Dante DeCaro (vocals); Risto Joensuu (guitar); Matti Ahopelto, Saku Kämäräinen (keyboards); Markus Joensuu (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jace Lasck.
Recording information: Teespot Studio, Hämeenlinna; The Studio, Shawnigan Lake.
Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown showrunner Spencer Krug's fourth studio outing under the Moonface moniker and second go-around with Finnish Krautrock enthusiasts Siinai, My Best Human Face dials back on the wintry, ballad-heavy melodrama of 2012's Heartbreaking Bravery in favor of a more dynamic, Autobahn-ready set of indie rock anti-anthems. Recorded once again in Finland, the seven-track set opens with the oddly heartfelt "Nightclub Artiste," an unabashedly melodic blast of midtempo, shoegazey tomfoolery built around the curious phrase "What you did in front of everyone, in the middle of the night club, in the middle of the night." Things pick up on the propulsive "Risto's Riff," a bona fide fist-pumper that utilizes all of Siinai's Krautrock might, pairing droning guitars and synths with a perfectly calibrated kick drum, occasionally breaking out of the singular rumble into a glorious punk chorus that declares triumphantly, "At least I'm not a photographer." Krug explores the trappings of nostalgia on the icy "Them Call Themselves Old Punks," self-enmity on the workmanlike "Ugly Flower Pretty Face," and turns 2014's forlorn, piano-led ballad "City Wrecker" into a funked-out slow jam that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness. The lush and melancholic "Queen of Both Darkness and Light" closes things out on fairly somber note, but between its thunderous percussion and choir-like backing vocals, the gloom is cut with enough majesty to incite goosebumps rather than despair. In fact, My Best Human Face may be Krug's most vital-sounding set of solo songs to date. It's certainly one of his most balanced, as playful as it is earnest, and as hook-driven as it is meandering. ~ James Christopher Monger