Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary

Wolf Parade
Apologies to the Queen Mary
Sub Pop

Wolf Parade are some smart cookies. Two weeks ago they came through town as an opener for Montreal compatriots the Arcade Fire, and now they're back to headline their own show in the Entry. Such strategic backtracking is likely to pay off with another sold-out show, given that they've drummed up a fan base with a sound not unfairly described as "similar to Arcade Fire." The lyrics are heartfelt but simple, like Poetry 101 assignments ("Give me your eyes/I need sunshine"), and the music is more grandiose than what you might expect from guys with guitars. But the element that will draw the most comparisons is the voice.

Spencer Krug has the sort of dramatic warble that makes people giggle, roll their eyes, and sometimes pay attention. In recent years, the warble has become the unlikely hallmark of indie rock. The Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, and Bright Eyes staked their claim on mainstream radio with those quivering vocals, and did so effectively enough that Drive 105 listeners probably think the only prerequisite for an indie label deal is a promise to teeter on the edge of emotional breakdown.

Second vocalist Dan Boeckner's melodies waver less. He sounds a bit like an impatient, hollering Beck, and on this album at least, his contributions tend to outshine Krug's. "Modern World" pares down the group's typical soundscape, and succeeds on its piano and acoustic guitar skeleton. "We Built Another World" employs a disco beat that could get people moving, not in a club but at a subtly sexy living-room dance party. Krug has a winner with "I'll Believe in Anything," the thumping percussion and teenage-runaway fantasies of which nicely mirror the Arcade Fire's optimistic epics. Still, those newly crowned indie rock "stars" grabbed a spot in the public eye with tracks that left folks breathless and contemplating their own mortality. While Apologies to the Queen Mary is good, none of its songs are car-commercial good. But hey, it took Modest Mouse eleven years to write "Float On."

 
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