Handsome Furs: Plague Park

Handsome Furs
Plague Park
Sub Pop

Montreal's Wolf Parade are taking their sweet time crafting a follow-up to their thrilling 2005 debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary. (We're dealing in indie-rock years here; try to keep up.) Even so, a deluge of recent efforts by Parade-related acts—including Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, and Frog Eyes—has done its best to keep Queen Mary fans amused while Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade's yin-and-yang frontmen) come up with another batch of topsy-turvy, glam-folk rave-ups.

Here's one more to add to the list: Plague Park, the full-length debut by a new duo featuring Boeckner and his fiancée, Alexei Perry. Like Sonny & Cher before them, Handsome Furs have a handful of decent tunes. Built atop a stuttering drum-machine beat and retro-futuristic laser-gun keyboards, "Snakes on the Ladder" establishes an atmosphere of domestic tranquility pierced by paranoia, while "Dead + Rural," the album's most arresting cut, pulls off a pretty convincing approximation of The Jesus and Mary Chain's shoe-gaze disco. (Had it been composed four years ago, you'd have heard it on the Lost in Translation soundtrack.)

But with its desultory indie-pop meanderings and passive-aggressive bedroom-demo mumbling, too much of Plague Park sounds unfinished (in a bad way). A couple of the more anemic tracks—like "Dumb Animals," which could be Jandek doing Brandon Flowers doing Bruce Springsteen—even raise the possibility that Boeckner's well is beginning to run dry. Maybe Krug can give him the recharge he seems to need.

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