Sympathetic Stupid

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wolf Parade: Apologies To The Queen Mary

Wow, hype-a-tastic. They're from Canada. They keep playing shows with the Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse. They've been talked up on Pitchfork, on Cokemachine Glow, on Tiny Mix Tapes. They started with two EPs which kept selling out. Isaac Brock, from Modest Mouse, produced this album.

But most of these things are probably related (hey, play enough shows with The Arcade Fire and the world will beat a path to your door). At some point, you gotta actually listen to the music before deciding if you like them or not - a revolutionary idea, I know. So their first full length album had to deliver. And I reckon it does.

So it's a platter full of indie art-rock, with all the obvious comparisons, including and especially the afore-mentioned. The playing and production is by and large faultless, if not obviously virtuosic. Drums, guitar, keys and 'manipulation', with two boys singing close harmonies. But these guys are doing something really right, because it builds on solid foundations to give us a consistently great, and at times brilliant, album.

My highlights of the album have to be in Grounds For Divorce - "Look like a newlywed" into the chorus - and I'll Believe In Anything - "I'll take you where/Nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn". But almost every other track does it for me as well, except maybe the seven-and-a-half slow, guitar-jangle tinged minutes of Dinner Bells. But it does provide a welcome comedown after the frenetic pace, melodies and hooks of the rest of the album. And finally there's the Beatles-esque refrain of the last track - "It's getting better all the time" - which leaves us on a truly optimistic note.

And the drumming deserves a mention. It's so straight ahead, so thumping, reliably filling the bottom end in the absence of a bass, keeping the pace perfectly and not going overboard on the cymbals. Most notably, the almost complete lack of elaborate fills is such a refreshing a virtue; no drummer's ever resisted the temptation to hit everything in front of him, in those two beats he gets all to himself.

Yeah, this one'll last a while.