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Handsome Furs - A synths meet Springsteen epic,
This review is from: Face Control (Audio CD)
Wolf Parade's "Apologies to the Queen Mary" remains for many a source or real frustration. Why is this? The answer is "Queen Mary" promised bucket loads from a band with enormous potential and who fully delivered on songs like "Hearts of Fire" "Shine a Light", "Dear sons and daughters of hungry ghosts" and the brilliant "I'll be in anything". This Canadian band fronted by the Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug arrived on the scene along with other bands like Broken Social Scene and fellow Montreal neighbours the Arcade Fire and seemed unstoppable with their combustible songs. They then followed it up with "At Mount Zoomer" and sorry but I was underwhelmed. There are some great songs on it (California Dreamer and Soldier Grin) but it wasn't a patch on their debut.
Clearly you can keep a good band down or in this case can't stop them branching out to other projects. Thus in 2009 Krug has recorded the excellent "Dragonslayer" with Sunset Rubdown and Boeckner has teamed up with Mrs Boeckner the very lovely Alexei Perry to record "Face Control" in their band the Handsome furs. This is their second album since the debut "Plague Park" and the only way I can describe their sound is as a cross between the Gaslight Anthem, Bruce Springsteen, New Order and Depeche Mode. Boeckner always wrote the more pop orientated Wolf Parade songs although it was Krug's efforts on "Queen Mary" which made it extra special. But as much as I like "Sunset Rubdown" if given the choice it's the Handsome Furs album that would clinch the deal.
Perry synths add a new dimension to the songs on "Face Control" which throughout are very strong. Indeed this is no mere side project but a bona fide band in its own right which on the evidence of this album could carve out a real niche. There a few songs which don't quite make it a 5 star. But these are easily offset by the scorching "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues" the hook laden "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything" and the pop bliss of "I'm confused". Indeed unlike Wolf Parade you could dance to some of these songs and "Legal Tender" could have been on the Fever Ray album. By the time the album closes with the squall of synths and guitars on "Radio Kalininbrad" you skip back to track 1 and listen again. A very handsome second album by the Boeckners.