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Wolf Parade on hiatus

December 1, 2010

Alas, farewell, then, Wolf Parade, the Canadian ‘supergroup’ whose members have announced an indefinite hiatus. This is a shame, though admittedly it comes in the wake of a rather disappointing and, I have the sense, not overwhelmingly well-received third LP, Expo 86.

What first endeared Wolf Parade to me was the shambolic atmosphere of their first full album Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005), which sounded as if the members had all swapped instruments just before recording commenced. Energy and bluster carried them through, and the songs were (mostly) sharp, snappy and infectiously likeable. The colossal drum crash that opens ‘You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son’ is one of the best beginnings to a record in as long as I can remember; closer ‘This Heart’s On Fire’ is a great raw heartfelt lovesong; and in the middle there’s ‘Shine a Light’, with its baffling video, one of their finest songs, which showcases co-vocalists Dan Boeckner’s and Spencer Krug’s respective excitable yelps. (I was also convinced, due to a vanishingly slight vocal resemblance between Krug and Will Oldham, that the bandmembers were all, like, really old). 

Expo 86 lacks this quasi-amateurish sound, or even the shaggy prog-rock experimentation of 2008 followup At Mt Zoomer: instead it sounds rote-learned and, sadly, repetitious, both in itself and of the superior songs on At Mt Zoomer — though it just about hauls itself up to scratch in the amazing one-two closing of ‘Yulia’ and ‘Cave-o-Sapien’.

Spencer Krug released a similarly lacklustre (for him) album with his other main band Sunset Rubdown last year, which seemed to almost parody that band’s characteristic loose, modular song structures; as well as this project, he also plays in Swan Lake and Frog Eyes, while fellow Wolf Parade frontman Dan Boeckner is half of skeery drum-machine paranoids Handsome Furs. The two release records at a frightening rate, such that in any one year there can be maybe four non-Wolf Parade albums featuring these two prominently. One feels that creative burnout maybe got them. Unlike, say, Sleater-Kinney’s announcement shortly after releasing their awesome The Woods in 2005, which really felt wrong coming from a band who’d hit such a peak, Wolf Parade’s comes at what seems a natural juncture, and I hope will let them recharge batteries and come back with a new venture as jagged and weird as their first outing was.

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From → Music

One Comment
  1. Shame. But being shocked by this split would be like being surprised by your parents divorce even though they sleep in separate rooms and see other people.

    http://mrshuffleupagus.blogspot.com/2010/12/wolf-parade-i-shouldve-seen-break-up.html

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