May 24, 2007

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Handsome Furs, Plague Park
Sub Pop Records, 2007

Most regular joes would be a lot more into Dan Boeckner’s real band, Montreal’s Wolf Parade, than this squelchy Brian Eno-on-downers trip, done with his significant other, Alexie Perry. Where Wolf Parade strives for and occasionally meets the songwriting benchmarks of Arcade Fire (who were in fact the impetus behind Wolf Parade’s formation owing to an emergency opening-gig opportunity), Plague Park is wry, infrequently grief-stricken, and technically comparable to Postal Service. Mind, all their in-depth analysis of mankind’s hopelessness doesn’t prevent them from stealing the riff from “Ohio” and letting their software automation run with it, not that the church bell-like synth of “What We Had” was a terrible idea. The Rosetta stone of the album is “Dead & Rural,” pointing to a puppy-like following of Arcade Fire’s recent footsteps in its “Born to Run” riff and nasal-blockage Win Butler vocalizing. As with Arcade Fire, there’s a period of adjustment involved in digging this album, though the rewards reaped aren’t as lustrous. B-Eric W. Saeger