Wolf Parade was going on an indefinite hiatus, I was extremely disappointed. Expo 86 is a fantastic album and it felt as though the band had returned to its powerful, hook-heavy, poetic roots. Of course, just because Wolf Parade is on indefinite hiatus (They are definitely on hiatus for an indefinite window of time, more accurately.) doesn't mean that I ought to cry over the loss of their sounds. Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown will continue to exist. And really, continue to dazzle. In a lot of ways, other than the perfect brilliance of Apologies To Queen Mary, and the peaks on At Mount Zoomer and Expo 86, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner work just as well alone. Not that I would support a Wolf Parade dissolution. I wouldn't. But if I'm given the option to hear two great albums because they split up, I'll take that every time. It's kind of like how having divorced parents can mean you get two Christmases. The more you know... So, Dan Boeckner's project, Handsome Furs, has drummed out another incredible trackstack to follow up on 2009's excellent Face Control. This new album is called Sound Kapital and it kicks a definite amount of ass.
Boeckner and Alexei Perry, his stunning wife and the keyboardist-half of the Handsome Furs, have built an electronic, industrial, dance-rock, new wave masterpiece. They creating massive, fuzzy and undeniable soundscapes all over the album, each one backed with solidly danceable beats that fill you with energy. The album is so good that I'm actually having a hard time not using disgustingly cute superlatives. The opening track "When I Get Back Home" lives on the repetition of the titular line and grinds out through great keyboard work, including some beautiful fills that give the song tangible heart. It's a song about changing, about growing with time, and it sets a great tone for the rest of the album. "Damage" is blustery and chaotic, again with brilliant keyboard parts and a build that feels almost like an '80s workout montage soundtrack, and when Boeckner kicks in with the vocals it turns into a catchy-as-hell pop song. "Bury Me Standing" has a similar effect, seeming dense and mechanical at the start, but getting progressively more lively, more human and vulnerable as it goes on. There's a bit of a Junior Boys vibe that rears its head most in "Memories of the Future." It's a brilliant way to cross up the two styles too, bringing one part electronic lamentation and one part raspy guitar. Boeckner's voice really sells a lot of these songs because it's so recognizable and so strong, even in its exasperation.
"Serve the People" uses a slower build to get to a rousing combination of marching, pounding drums and a wall of sound. It's a call to arms sort of song that remains ever self-aware. "What About Us" embraces the '80s synth vibe most fully by taking it into a rational, downtrodden love song. The keyboard crawls that decorate the background of the track are phenomenal here and really give the song a fleshed out vibe. The only song on the album that feels bland, at least through two listens (claim subject to change... it could be ultimately awesome) is "Repatriated," only because the song appears to build a couple of times, but never boils over. Instead it just teases. And the explosions turn out to be rumbles that settle back down. Still it's a song with virtues. The powerful, grinding "Cheap Music" features Boeckner wailing as each guitar chord is struck and let resonate in its own fuzz. It also has some of the most wonderful lyrics on the album. But the closer, "No Feelings" is an epic gem. Warbling, guitar and heart-beat drums open the track as it begins to build, and build, and build. At the midway point it all mashes together into a voice, guitar scratch and synth sandwich before falling back to its opening smoothness. It's a beautiful way to close the album.
Listen to Sound Kapital below. And then buy it in some form. If not only for the music, then for the album cover... which you can see above is exceptional.
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