A Beginner’s Guide To… Wolf Parade
Another class band gets the full run through, this week it's Wolf Parade courtesy of Oobah Arthur Paul Butler
Who They Are
Wolf Parade are a Canadian art-rock, indie-rock, alternative rock, post-rock four-piece band. Formed in 2003 from shards of Frog Eyes and Atlas Strategic, they’re another by-product of the faith, respect and understanding shown to interesting, experimental music by the overwhelming Montreal music scene. The band’s principal song-writing is shared equally between Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner, who possess vast tapestries of musical exploits. Boeckner is formerly of Atlas Strategic, Handsome Furs, and is currently enjoying success with his latest group Divine Fits, whilst Krug has been involved with Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, and most recently Moonface. Wolf Parade’s line-up is often described as equivocal, but the only changes come in the form of their utility man Hadji Bakara leaving in 2005 to achieve a PHD in Nuclear Thermodynamics, only to be replaced with Dante DeCaro, whilst hard-hitting drummer Arlen Thompson has been ever-present since their formation. Though currently on a hiatus, they have released three records to this date. Their first arrived in 2005 with ‘Apologies To The Queen Mary’, followed by ‘At Mount Zoomer’ in 2008 and, most recently, ‘Expo 86’ in 2010.
Why You Should Love Them
Artistic depth, and honesty. The varying goals of both Boeckner’s and Krug’s distinguishable yet both volatile songs are enchanting; Boeckner often writes as frankly as his aspirations will allow him, and Krug juxtaposes him perfectly by layering metaphors and complex turns of phrase. Whilst the song-writing is quite clearly allied by Wolf Parade’s interesting idiosyncratic instrumentation, what I find remarkable is that their songs often resemble two different accounts of the same event: ‘Modern World’ and ‘Call It A Ritual’ work together as a good example. Drummer Arlen Thompson’s aggressive style is as poignant as anything else in this band; he creates a foundation of intent for songs which often dance on the line between genres. The band’s sound alone is typified by honesty. In conversation with Boeckner recently he explained that they “just wanted recordings of their songs that didn’t sound shitty” and that their approach really did consign all faith in their own strengths as a live act.
Their Best Album
Wolf Parade produce records of a concept nature; each has different ambitions. ‘Expo 86’ is their most cohesive record: it possesses some of their best songs that are defined by undertones of guilt, frustration and an undignified sadness. Album two, ‘At Mount Zoomer’ resembles a desert; raw waves of heat rise off of each defined idea, sketchy mountains on the horizon provide depth, and each component of song-writing bothers your skin aggressively or with subtlety, even at its sweetest. ‘Apologies To The Queen Mary’ is dark, varied, forthright, and my favourite. There’s an intelligence and aggression channelled into those early songs; from ‘Shine A Light’ to ‘Grounds For Divorce’ – their impact was like a cannon ball had hit me and got stuck inside. I went to bed feeling young and the next morning and I awoke in the full consciousness that I’m a twenty-something year old with nothing in front of me this side of the grave but the solace that “some folks float, some are buried alive”. Don’t worry, they’re too good to be depressing – listening to every Wolf Parade record is a fun, heartening, cathartic process.
Top Five Tracks
What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had To Go This Way)
We Built Another World
Fine Young Cannibals
In The Direction Of The Moon