Wednesday, October 05, 2005

wolf parade - apologies to the queen mary [album review]

[Subpop, 2005]

Wolf Parade are the most hyped band around right now. They’re from Montreal, Canada, just like every other indie band making it big. After months of anticipation, their first album, Apologies to the Queen Mary is finally unleashed on the all-too-suspecting public (it has also been highly downloaded). Their earlier EPs were pretty much submerged in brown, swampy sludge; but here, they are cleaned off a little. Probably due to more money (this is their Sub Pop debut) and also thanks to Modest Mouse front man, Isaac Brock’s production on this record. Still, the swamp idea is suitable – Apologies is one thick, discordant record that finds beauty in ugliness, just as Modest Mouse is renowned for. I’d like to put this name-checking aside, but it’s pretty important – at least in terms of contextualisation of this review, if not the record itself. Being good pals with The Arcade Fire (the indie-kid favourites that are taking the world by storm) certainly helps, but the majority of press surrounding Wolf Parade’s debut is preoccupied with this link. Not only that, but Wolf Parade feature members in Frog Eyes and Sunset Rubdown, two other more obscure but critically acclaimed artists who’ve garnered attention lately. They’re probably the most talked about band of the moment, but for once, it’s actually warranted. This album is amazing.

Even if they encapsulate the fervor and energy of The Arcade Fire and craft beauty from the unattractive like Modest Mouse or Frog eyes, these comparisons fall desperately short. Because that’s only half the sound. The other is made up of pure passion and sincerity – melody’s that through contrast are so overarchingly beautiful that the more dystopian sounding moments are either soon forgotten or soon cherished. For instance, “It’s a Curse” is pure exposition. For the two minutes, it chugs along (or around in circles) only to give way to the most anthemic, serene and emotional climax that goes for the remaining one minute. Soon, though, one learns to appreciate these more stagnant moments. It’s easy to find joy from such an aesthetic of such repulsiveness, because not only is it rewarding and interesting, but it has some killer riffs and terrific hooks. Shrieky vocals and dirty guitars are matched with blissful synth lines and ornately diverse instrumentation. This is indie-rock at it’s most inventive; at a time where it is clear that reinvention is what is constantly needed. Bands that generate this much hype are generally soon consumed by it. But not Wolf Parade, oh no. It’s safe so say that this will be the first of many great albums.

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