Like many of you, it’s taken me quite a while to warm up to the bulk of what may be broadly known as indie rock. Tight pants and faux-hawks aside, tinny guitars, nasally, affected vocals and straight, Caucasian rhythms were simply never my thing. In fact, bands like Wolf Parade (who rose in three weeks time to North American stardom thanks to an opening slot for the Arcade Fire) seemed to typify most of what I disliked about the genre: songs about being sleep-deprived and depressed, melodramatic vocals owing to Morrissey and Robert Smith, art-rock posture and hype that seemed to far surpasses musicianship. Guilty, though, of the same prejudice and deafness employed by critics of some of my most hallowed instrumental/improvisational heroes, I decided to give Wolf Parade its proper due and actually listen.
The first three seconds of the first track are about as much whimsy as we get throughout, as a lilting passage plucked from Vashti Bunyan gives way to a charging anthem about a city in one’s head. Recorded in the Arcade Fire’s Montreal church, the associated band’s influence is evident throughout the album, without dominating too much. “Language City” is a literate stomp that employs the Arcade Fire’s penchant for crescendoing codas to triumphant effect.
While the album is as straight and warbley as one might expect, it doesn’t relent. Through tight production and truly infectious hooks, the band evinces a depth that far exceeds their image and renown. Most surprising are gems like “Fine Young Cannibals” that nod directly to The Police and The Clash, and “Kissing the Beehive,” a ten-minute epic that begs you to shuffle like the Peanuts kids.
The songwriting of Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner is superb, while Hadji Bakara‘s keyboard trickery gives each song the sheen it deserves. Most impressive is “California Dreamers” with its delectable synth line and “Riders on the Storm” Rhodes outro.
After binging on this one, I can honestly say, “Believe the hype;” but, first, actually give the disc a spin.
JamBase | Montreal
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