May 28, 2007

Plague Park-Handsome Furs

"Plague Park" is a statement of epic proportions. Its heart and scope can not be summed up by mere words or measured by man made ratings. It is not a piece of music to be dissected or analysed. It is music to be felt not merely thought about. It is music that reacts with the heart in a way that makes most music seem trifling, ineffective and unimportant. If you search for music that means something, and sometimes you don't know why, then "Plague Park" is for you. It is not difficult music but it is music that is difficult to make. It is not complicated but it is complex. Put it this way. When it is over you are sad that there is no more. You want to hug someone. Why? Because great music exists to make you feel this way.

Oh, I guess I will try to write about it. Handsome Furs are Dan Boeckner and his partner Alexei Perry. This is their first creation. Although all of these songs would fit on any album of Dan's "other" band Wolf Parade, they make sense to exist here. Perhaps they would sound even better with the fully fleshed sounds of a band. But then you would miss the magic that is created here. These songs are stark and desolate, emotional mini epics. Like little darts in the heart, they hurt but don't maim you. The combination of drum machine and guitar on every song actually accentuates the raw feelings and heartfelt missives throughout "Plague Park".

If the first song "What We Had" doesn't hook you in right away, then my ramblings have been for nought. As with every song a drum machine starts the beat then the guitar chimes in and Dan's glorious, enveloping voice comes in. "What we had don't mean a thing.." hurls from the back of his throat. Each song has the same feel but is unique in its own way. Melodies are in plentiful supply and the rhythmic beats and clanging guitar chords will shake you to the core. Truly every song is great. "Hearts Of Iron" makes you weak at the knees. "Handsome Furs Hate This City" could become their show anthem. I can just imagine fans singing "We Hate This City, Filled Its Drone" at the tops of their voices. Although "Sing! Captain" could also do nicely as a Furs anthem, with its images of desolate city landscapes and isolation. In fact that seems to be the theme of most of the songs. People stuck in places they don't want to be in, feelings of terror and dread. Sometimes the only hope is to cling to the ones you love and know. Oh, what else, "Snakes On The Ladder" is all glorious desire, "Dumb Animals" is an epic of lost causes and no hope. "Dead + Rural" is probably the lightest song, almost poppy in nature and then we close with "The Radio's Hot Sun" which seems sunny and short in comparison, a perfect way to end. Dan and Alexei have created music that is truly special. The combination of Dan's jaw droppingly real voice and the couple's music, which also sings, I find irresistible. If a better album is released this year, then I for one will be surprised but also delighted. For this is music of the highest order. Something to grow inside of you and something to make your heart beat stronger.

B(oot)log have a recording of a Handsome Furs show recently at Massey Hall, Toronto.

MP3: What We Had
MP3: Sing! Captain
There's a town, just a little town
Raining cloud, a hollow sound
When our lovers gather round
And if they're cold
Then they're cold
Feed them wine, feed them chrome
We hate this place here
It's our home, It's our home

And your car-collapsing trees and I
Could turn them back to sound
With the torches in our hands we will reduce it
To the ground

I stood outside in the bright black night
Beneath their buzzing power lines
And I saw a number in the sky, in the sky
And if there's a God, he's a little gun
And he holds you closely inside these walls
But he hates his babies most of all

And your car-collapsing trees and I
Could turn them back to sound
With our torches in our hands we will reduce it to the ground
In the parliament there's a little
Hands that are reaching out
You can try and try and try but baby there's no way around

Sing Captain
Sing out loud
Sing, but we're bound
Sing Captain
Sing out loud
Sing Captain
We're Bound

Buy this record from Subpop or Amazon.


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