Review: Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary

1 Feb

Publication: Trinity News
Date Published: February 2006
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To be cool among the indie-rock collective in 2005, one only needed to utter three simple words: THE. ARCADE. FIRE. Setting the musical world alight with their energetic and engaging debut album, Funeral, Messrs Butler and company effortlessly altered the course of the musical bandwagon, bundling it with ease from the well-trodden path of skinny ties and post-punk indie imitators. Earmarking Montreal as the musical scene du jour, The Arcade Fire’s success sent industry figureheads scouring around poorly-lit basements and dingy clubs in search of a similar sound and similar success. Among those hoisted from obscurity and tipped for success in 2006 were Brooklyn newbies Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as industry stalwarts Broken Social Scene. But, following the release of their fabulous debut album Apologies …, it may in fact be Montreal quartet Wolf Parade, quietly gnashing their teeth in the background, that steal the hearts and minds of music lovers this year.

Formed in 2003 as a collaborative effort between co-vocalists Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug (each sings lead vocals on roughly half of the album’s tracks), Wolf Parade have excited and delighted with a thrilling fusion of guitars, drums, keyboards and electronics. Weaving these elements into a musical landscape that is in equal parts enchanting and haunting, Apologies …is a masterclass in how to effectively blend disparate musical layers, with no one ingredient dominating to the detriment of the overall sound. Yet, at the same time, this wonderfully unified musical background is littered with catchy guitar hooks, melancholy keyboard intros and driving drum beats, ensuring that the powerful individuality of the various instruments is never forgotten.

Though intricate and complex, this coherently diverse sound provides Krug and Boeckner with an excellent platform from which they can captivate listeners. The two work excellently together, alternating with ease, and often combining to create some wonderfully off-kilter harmonies. Though their voices are sometimes difficult to comprehend, once understood, they reveal tales of childhood dreams, disillusionment with the modern world, lost love, and a strange obsession with ghosts. Lyrically, the band’s disenchantment dominates – on one of the album’s standout tracks, ‘Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts’, Krug moans that “we’ll say it’s in God’s hands / but God doesn’t always have the best goddamn plans, does he?”. However, the overall tone of the album is prevented from becoming overly depressive, as Wolf Parade cleverly disguise the cynical expression, allowing it to soar above deceptively upbeat rhythms.

When it comes to Wolf Parade, it is difficult to find a review of the band that doesn’t make reference to the band’s network of illustrious friends. Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, who effectively discovered the band in 2003, is credited as producer on Apologies …. The Arcade Fire have made no effort to disguise their soft-spot for the band, offering support slots on numerous occasions during their propulsion to stardom. However, once one steps back from the deluge of name-dropping and allows the intricate musical brilliance of Apologies … to reveal itself, it is easy to appreciate Wolf Parade as one of the most exciting ‘new’ bands of the moment. This year’s Arcade Fire? Don’t be surprised!

Apologies To The Queen Mary is out now on Sub Pop Records

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