Sub-Pop (Fleet Foxes, Flight of the Conchords, The Shins) has always been a breeding ground for stellar indie rock music. When Wolf Parade released their self-titled EP in 2005, that trend didn’t change. Releasing Apologies to the Queen Mary in the same year due to the resounding success of the EP, Wolf Parade shot themselves into stardom. The Vancouver, BC band– made up of Spencer Krug (Vocals, Keyboard), Dan Boeckner (Vocals, Guitar), Arlen Thomson (Drums), Dante DeCarlo (Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Percussion)– was put on an indie pedestal after Apologies (receiving a very highly-regarded 9.2 and best new music stamp for the album from Pitchfork).
What puts this album head-and-shoulders above their other works – including the stellar sophomore album At Mount Zoomer - is that their focus wasn’t on any one part of the music. Every aspect, whether rhythm, guitar, bass, keyboards or vocals, shines throughout the album. Krug’s vocals sound almost removed, even uninvolved at points, but he ropes you in with characteristic quick-moving poignant lines like “said look at the clouds/ It’s a show all on its own/ Such were the grounds, such were the grounds, for divorce I know” from the album’s third track “Grounds For Divorce”. The dueling keyboards of Krug and DeCarlo are given the most memorable melody line on the entire album during “I’ll Believe in Anything,” which starts with piercing synths that are only usurped in intensity when Thomson’s heavy drums build on top to preserve the rounded sound they work so hard to maintain.
This technique makes it possible for the album to remain seamless without losing steam. All 12 songs are different, they all have their own character, separate stories that bleed together to form a cohesive tale. Even more spectacular then Wolf Parade’s evenness – actually, probably due to the evenness – is how well emotion is conveyed through every instrument. The lagging drums and arhythmic guitar on “Dinner Bells” speaks volumes about Krug’s sorrow in the lines “There will be no more dinner bells/ Left for you to ring” – most likely about the loss of a parental figure. But even though his lyrics focus heavily on this ‘cop-out’ of ‘I’ and ‘you’ when referencing people, there’s always a duality in his writing. Preceding that idea is a simply rhymed verse that alludes to a greater power controlling our existence in ”I’ve heard all your reasons/ I’ve heard all your plans/ I have seen the seasons/ Bunched up in your hands”. It’s both a tear-soaked remembrance and commentary on discovering a higher being. How Wolf Parade wraps this all into a few verses and one-note-per-bar guitar solos will remain an unsolved.