And so we finally review the Little Band That Could. The story of Wolf Parade is a long and lazy tale of years of unattainable success; the result of, well, laziness. Relocations, line-up changes plus a bunch of other things that I won’t go into plagued the development of this very special group. It wasn’t until their savior Isaac Brock (of Modest Mouse fame) took them under his wing that they achieved stardom. Er, the type of stardom that awaits those just signed to the Sub Pop roster (warm champagne, club sandwiches, et cetera).
After falling in love with the group Brock decided to take on the responsibility in the studio for their first full length. As a result we have an album full of almost radio ready indie rock songs that make quite a melancholic racket. A few have been around for the past couple of years on the band’s self released Ep’s (in slightly better, grittier form) but there are also a few new additions that are just as good. The album is so good in fact, I seriously contemplated growing a pony tail and beard and relocating to Montreal. Then I remembered my place in the world as a lowly music reviewer. Hum.
So, the songs. As you’d expect, one of the best albums of the year is filled with A material. The songs almost alternate between Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug (who share writing duties) and it’s hard to say which ones are better. “You Are A Runner And I Am My Fathers Son” starts things off and you notice how much the vocals resemble Cary Mercer from Frog Eyes. The off kilter melody stomps along with a stripped down accompaniment that sounds like carnies are playing the instruments. The album is full of Bowie-esque grandiosity, some Modest Mouse-isms and a sound that is not totally unlike what it would sound like if Tom Waits was in The New Pornographers. There is a string of three songs here that has possibly become my favourite one, two, three punch on any album, ever (not coincidentally, they are the older songs). “Shine a Light,” “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts,” and “I’ll Believe in Anything” are absolutely cathartic. “Dear Sons” is probably my favourite of the three cause that chorus is just too fucking killer (sample lyrics: “God doesn’t always have a God damned plan does he?”). “I’ll Believe in Anything” is equally fantastic though (“Give me your eyes / I need sunshine”). The songs teeters back and forth and suddenly explodes into a chugging powerhouse.
Although it may be easier to point towards their points of inspiration compared to some of the other recent indie rock explosions, it’s a safe bet to call Apologies to the Queen Mary the best indie rock album to come out of them all. Montreal is full of amazing communities and has so many amazing places to visit, musically related or otherwise. It’s always been that way, but at least now it’s getting the recognition that it deserves in relation to the great band floating around the city. And everyone laughed at em when I wouldn’t shut up about End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story.
- Andrew Iliadis