Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Nice to Meet You, At Mount Zoomer
Wolf Parade’s debut, “Apologies to the Queen Mary”, was an unbelievable album that blew a majority of listeners away even only after the first time through. To this day, Apologies… is still one of my favorite albums. Of course, with such a successful start, expectations for their future were incredibly high. With the release of their sophomore LP “At Mount Zoomer” quickly approaching, die hard Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner fans can’t wait. With the tracks hitting the net not long ago, I decided to give the album a rundown and see just how Wolf Parade would follow their spectacular start.
Soldier’s Grin - Carnival. This upbeat riff that opens the album alone gives me hope that At Mt. Zoomer will be able to live up to Apologies… The overall positive-sounding music structure of the song remains catchy and constant, up until the bridge where the band takes the time to slow things down a bit. Finally, by the time the song comes back around to the refrain, I’m completely hooked, shouting “And what you know can only mean one thing!”
Call It a Ritual - Potential. This song was leaked even earlier than Mt. Zoomer so I (as I’m sure most of you) have had an ample chance to listen to it. The song seems to never really get off the ground. By no means am I saying this is a bad thing (in fact, I really do enjoy this song), it just seems like there’s so much more that could have been done with it. Everything starts to musically click around the two minute mark, but the moment is short lived.
Language City - Vindictive. The lyrics in this one may not be about one seeking revenge, but the moment I heard it, “vengeful” was the feeling at the forefront of my mind. Boeckner excels on this track from the moment it begins through its up-tempo bridge and ending, repeating, “We are not at home.” Easily one of Dan’s best and another great WP track.
Bang Your Drum - Unnerving. The opening strains of this song have a cryptic sound, one that leaves the listener thinking, “Something’s not right.” The paranoid feeling remains throughout the first half of the song. Relief doesn’t come until about the 1:45 mark, where one is finally free to ease some of that nervous tension as the song takes a more lighthearted sound. Feel free to sway your hair back and forth at this point, even as Spencer sings, “Take that hair out of your damned eyes.” Eventually, the song ends with sounds reminiscent of the opening, not as nerve-wracking but still leaving one with the feeling that everything is not as it should be.
California Dreamer - Dry. While far from being a bad song, this track is really hit or miss on every subsequent listen. Sometimes I find myself zoning out during the song, thinking it nothing more than another mediocre Spencer track. Other times I’ll throw it on to rock out to the simplistic lyrics (“I think I might have heard you on the radio” or “I’ll be around like a teenager in town”). However, hooking as it may occasionally be, it’s still more or less a rudimentary Krug song.
The Grey Estates - Escape. “Darling, please let’s get out of here / on a train to who knows where.” Dan’s lyrics mixed with the upbeat, fun sound give one a sense of departure, moving on to something bigger and better. This songs is definitely one of the most easily accessible for new listeners. It also does its part to remain true to Wolf Parade’s style so as not to alienate seasoned fans. This is definitely one of my favorites on the album, and one of the better Wolf Parade songs all around.
Fine Young Cannibals - Incredible. This is song is absolutely amazing. Ever since I had heard some of the live bootlegs, this has been the song I’d been looking forward to the most. It more than exceeded the personal hype that I had built. “Fine Young Cannibals” has easily become my favorite track on At Mount Zoomer. The tame opening, the gradual but brilliant build up, the subtle changes, the short but breathtaking instrumental bits, it all comes together in this one track. As a huge “Apologies…” fan who doubted Wolf Parade’s sophomore album, this track alone made me a believer.
An Animal In Your Care - Growth. Most initial listeners will probably skip this track after about six or seven seconds of it. The slow (some I’ve talked to have also said “boring”) and at times depressing (“You will remember me most by my funeral”) opening will elicit many to hit the next button as soon as possible. However, they’ll be missing out on the transformation towards the midpoint of the song where the tune begins to pick up into a more normal (“normal” in the context of Spencer Krug) Wolf Parade track.
Kissing the Beehive - Resolution. Some have already hailed the final track on the album as Wolf Parade’s greatest to date. While I don’t know if I can agree with these claims (yet), I will admit that Kissing the Beehive is almost eleven minutes of excellence. Even if one had no idea how many tracks AMZ had, it would be obvious to tell that this is the album’s closer because of it’s grand scale. While it may not rank at the very top, this song will undoubtedly find it’s way on any WP fan‘s favorite tracks list. “As if you didn’t know that it would sting.”
While not completely living up to every single one of my expectations from their debut, Wolf Parade have a found a way to make an absolutely stellar album, a definite purchase when it’s released on the eighteenth. Wolf Parade will also follow the release of the album with a promotional tour.
To avoid heat from Sub Pop, here are rough, live bootlegs of tracks from At Mount Zoomer.
Wolf Parade - Soldier's Grin (Early Live Version)
Wolf Parade - Fine Young Cannibals (Early Live Version)