Thursday, March 5, 2009


Handsome Furs - Face Control

Released March 10, 2009

Listen to some songs here.

Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary is one of the best albums of this decade. It effortlessly took its place into praise and perpetuity upon release; with the Midas touch of Isaac Brock's production, and with the ability to create one indelible anthem after another.

Since then, the creativity behind the group and its members has become disjointed. Spencer Krug's Sunset Rubdown has entered the world of whimsical fantasy. Dante DeCaro's Johnny and the Moon have found solace in folk. Even the second Wolf Parade album found them exploring new, more expansive sounds. And then there is Dan Boeckner with his Handsome Furs.

The songs that Dan Boeckner has sang for Wolf Parade all come across as irreverent as they are relentless. His pursuit is no different here. Strip the band, add his wife on keyboards, and back it with some digital beats that could fit easily well on a Britney Spears album (not necessarily a bad thing) and you've got Handsome Furs.

Most of the songs on the album begin in similar fashion. Hip Hop (influenced?) beats with heavy bass thump in at a quick pace to set up Boeckner's sandy voice and guitar shreds. The keyboard adds a bit of an 80's vibe, and the song clenches and releases at just the right moments to allow equal time for rocking out and dancing. This music is meant to induce pit stains--there are no breaks, just beats.

The standardization of the album doesn't make it feel redundant. In fact, it is the songs that stray from the formula, like the interstitial "(Passport Kontrol)," that you will find yourself skipping over after a few listens. The similarity only means that Boeckner knows what works. He knows why Wolf Parade's "I'll Believe in Anything" still commands fist pumps. Boeckner knows how to write an anthem.

The most rewarding track on this album is the final song, "Radio Kaliningrad." The beats, the shred, the boards, and Boeckner's incessant shrills all come together to give that feeling like it is the last song of the night, even if it is only 3:30pm in the afternoon.

There are a number of other songs on Face Control that will make you dance and clap and sing along. This is Boeckner's addition to the wonderful Wolf Parade puzzle, which he takes and concentrates here. He writes the anthems. He sings the songs that make you forget about those pit stains while you lift your clinched palms into the air. And on Face Control, he offers a few more.

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