Saturday, June 9, 2007

Reviews:: Handsome Furs Plague Park

Initially I resisted posting on the new Wolf Parade "side-project." It's been talked to death, but as I've been trapped in front of a computer for most of this rainy, shitty Vancouver day with it playing on repeat, I thought it deserved some more e-press.

I'm one of the few that actually prefers Dan's contributions to the Wolf Parade mix. His lyrics are the severly underated, and Handsome Furs gives him the opportunity to show off his skills. He teams up with his fiancé Alexei Perry to create a slow-tempoed record with reoccuring themes of fearing modernization and urbanization.

Initially, when I heard "fiance", I assumed this project was going to be:
1) fun
2) second rate

I was wrong on both counts. The trademark yelps and surging energy we've expected from WP are gone, but the open hatred of technology driven society are not. The songs are dark, Orweillian and weigh heavily on your thoughts. The record moves at a consistent, restrained tempo, eliminating any desire to get up and move from the equation. The record attacks you slowly, like a plodding heavyweight champ leaning on you while delivering a slow barrage of body shots until your legs give way.

While Dan's lyrics are powerful it's the insturmentation that really adds the cold, mechanical feel needed to make this record a succcess. Perry's programming and synths really set the tone of the songs and ironically it's completely desolate and without any element of humanity. Her beats are cold, calculated and that style actually compliments Broecker's vision perfectly (and should not be overlooked).

Dan adds guitar (acoustic mostly), but let's Perry find her own sound. Although not very diverse, the crispness and focus of her work really impressed me. That's not to say Dan didn't have a big impact of the sound. He still defines the group (I just want to dismiss the thought that Perry doesn't bring something important to the mix) and you can't hear the opening track - What We Had - and not expect a quick surge of energy and Spencer's voice to echo through your headphones. But that surge doesn't occur, and you realzie he's focused on adding another wrinkle into his existing repertoire.

The record, although lacking a single that will grab you (although Sing! Captain - with Dan's double-tracked vocals and Alexei's metronome short circuit beat - is fantastic, and the burst of energy on Dead + Rural is ear catching), works as a complete listen. While I find myself loving some WP songs and skipping others, I easily settle into a routine of listening to the complete album multiple times.

MP3:: What We Had
MP3:: Snakes on a Ladder

web page :: myspace :: label :: more tracks

Posted at 6:24 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 1:44 PM, Blogger alt-gramma did sayeth:

Very nice review! I'm like you--I didn't expect much, and I'm a little surprised by how much I like it.


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