Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
on 28 February 2006
I heard the first buzz from Wolf Parade (from another Subpop group) months before their album landed in the indie media's lap.
By the next time I'd heard of them, they were being hailed as the Next Great Thing, with their quirky, catchy pop music and off-kilter vocals. They are also massively hyped as the next big indie thing, after Arcade Fire and alongside Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Fortunately they are also enormous fun to listen to -- think the dancier little brother of Modest Mouse.
"Apologies to the Queen Mary" opens with a clamorous drum solo that sets up a "boom da boom" carnival sound. Then the oddball sound is completed when Spencer Krug starts warbling that you are a runner, and he is his father's son. I can't quite make out what he's saying except for those lines, but it's a wonderfully colorful song that gets grounded by some gritty guitar.
Having successfully hooked in the listener, they segue into transcendent guitar pop, bouncy indie rock that will have you tapping your foot, shimmery ballads, synthy dance melodies, and mournful rock song that slowly waltzes around in a flutter of electric organ. "Same Ghost Every Night" is the peak of this album, and that sound should be explored in future albums.
It ends with the upbeat-sounding, but sad-themed "This Heart's on Fire," where Dan Boeckner does his best imitation with Beck. It's a raw, painful song under all the catchiness, since it is apparently about the death of Boeckner's mother, and you can hear the sorrow in his voice as he sings.
No, it's not genius, and the media will seize another hot young band soon. But Wolf Parade may well be around without them, because they have enough weirdness and musical skill to stick in your mind after the album ends. And instead of a signature sound, they explore different kinds of songs -- mostly with success.
Rather than trying for catchiness alone, they weave the catchiness with waves of sound and a folky edge. Buzzing guitars get to mesh with carnival twinkling and sweeps of electronic organ, and form madly complex, colorful pop tunes... which just happen to be catchy. Think Olivia Tremor Control meets Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Krug and Boeckner share vocal duty on various songs, and I have to say I prefer Boeckner's raw, smooth voice. Krug's voice tends toward a melodramatic warble. When he's singing, he seems to destabilize the songs he's in, while Boeckner does the reverse.
While Krug's warbly voice will be a turnoff for some, "Apologies to the Queen Mary" is a fun, colorful pop album, and definitely something worth checking out. Hype or no hype.