Wolf Parade Albums
Wolf Parade formed an original sound the 2000’s by bringing a bit of classic rock into the ever growing indie rock scene. Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, their sound was driving like the best hard rock always is, while also maintaining an allegiance to the sound of synthesizer influenced rock of the 1970’s and 1980’s. The bands main two songwriters and leaders, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner, concoct a whole plethora of noise and subtle touches throughout their albums that helped establish the mainstream sound of rock music in the 21st century. The band’s members were very prolific during their existence and Wolf Parade remained the central group while it’s members played in various groups of the time including Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs, Swan Lake, Divine Fits, and various solo projects. Wolf Parade’s dual-keyboard approach to music is accessible, but kind of nervous and unstable, while always remaining charming.
Spencer Krug – Vocals, Piano/Keys
Dan Boeckner – Vocals, Guitar
Dante Decaro – Guitar, Alternate Percussion
Hadji Bakara – Keyboards, Electronics
Arlen Thompson – Drums
Best Album: Apologies to Queen Mary
2005 – (4.5 / 5) – Apologies To Queen Mary
2008 – (4 / 5) – At Mount Zoomer
2011 – (3 / 5) – EXPO 86
Apologies to Queen Mary – (4.5 / 5)
This band knows how to make a classic record, which is one of the most remarkable things about it. The opener “You are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son” grabs your attention right from the beginning; “Modern World”, “It’s a Curse” and “We Built Another World” keep the music alive and rocking; “Shine a Light” rejuvenates the band’s sound at the halfway mark; “This Hearts on Fire” is the epic closer. With all of these pulsating rockers, the band also wears its Modest Mouse and Talking Heads influences on its sleeves, but in a way that builds on Modest Mouse’s shadow in its own unique way (Modest Mouse front man Issac Brock also produces the record). I do enjoy how the band rewards the listeners by making the second half of the record even stronger than the first.
The album’s two best songs use 1980’s retro dual-synthesizer blend to great effect: the moving “Same Ghost Every Night” and the pumping “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”; the latter contains the cheeky line, “God doesn’t always have the best god damn plans, does he?” Does the album over stay its welcome? Maybe a few of these ideas were over used: “Dinner Bells” coming off as a bad version of “Same Ghost Every Night”, while “Grounds for Divorce” and “Fancy Claps” coming off as merely-decent synth pop. But overall, this record is among the most promising new talent of 2005 and along with The Arcade Fire (whom WP toured with), more greatness from Canada.
Greatest Songs: Same Ghost Every Night, Shine a Light, Dear Sons and Daughters of Holy Ghosts, It’s a Curse
At Mount Zoomer – (4 / 5)
A kind of transitional album, but they are going in an interesting direction. It is definitely underrated, as most critics of the time wrote it off as some kind of sophomore slump. Chances are, those same critics were vastly overrating their debut from 2005 Apologies to the Queen Mary (which is great but not a flawless masterpiece), seeing is how this album is not too different in that one in tone and consistency (though admittedly not quite as good). A nice majority of it is good: pop songs “Grey Estates” and “Call it a Ritual”, complex progressive songs “Fine Young Cannibals” and “An Animal in Your Care” all rank with their best songs. “Language City”, “Bang Your Drum”, and “California Dreamer” also have some lovely moments, so only a couple of tracks don’t work (“Soldier’s Grin” and the eleven minute “Kissing the Beehive”, the opener and closer oddly enough).
Unlike the first album, very little grabs your attention at first on At Mt. Zoomer. This is probably due to the fact that the members participated in no less than 6 side projects in between the two albums in the span of two years. And I mean they wrote songs in those side projects as well, so it’s pushing it to believe this would not feel like a rushed/confused record. In fact, I can’t help but feel if they had waited maybe another year or concentrated more on one project it would have been better. I wouldn’t say that about most bands, but Wolf Parade could be a great band when they wanted to, so I think it is warranted. Trimming albums is usually more of a problem than making them too short, and maybe this one could stand to be a little longer. But hey, it’s fun to pick on band’s like this, because they are often so enjoyable. I am very glad this album sounds so different than the debut and it might just turn out to stand the test of time as well as Apologies to the Queen Mary.
Greatest Songs: An Animal In Your Care, Fine Young Cannibals, Call It A Ritual, Grey Estates
Expo 86 – (3 / 5)
The bands formula for synthesized indie rock sounds a little tired on this album. There are still moments of greatness (the noise rock explosion at the end of “Palm Road”, the tricky jam-rock vibe in “Pobody’s Nerfect”, the straight off of Born in the USA homage “Yulia”) and some really good songs throughout (“Two Men in Tuxedos”, “Cloud Shadow On the Mountain”), but for the first time the band feels predictable. Everything about it from the vocals (which used to sound earth-shattering) to the playing of the instruments (“Ghost Pressure” could be any arena rock group from the early 1980’s, ditto for album closer “Cave O Sapien”) and the durability of the melodies (forgettable tunes such as “In the Direction of the Moon” and “Little Golden Age”) feels like this music could come from any band in the alternative/indie rock genre. The fact that over half of these songs are over 5 minutes long does not help matters either, as the band used to be concise with its points but now feels somewhat tired and overstuffed. Not enough of this music sounds unique to Wolf Parade, which is a shame, because the moments that do still stand out are still intriguing. A slight misstep for the band, perhaps they will regroup and impress once more.
Geatest Songs: Pobody’s Nerfect, Yulia, Two Men in Tuxedos