What follows are initial impressions of THE album.
The trademark synth floats in, almost cute and boyish. Then the guitars come and Dan starts wailing, in sync with rhythmic drumming. This song is melody plus anguish, lots of beautiful keyboard flourishes. Truly gorgeous.
Call It A Ritual
The one everyone has heard. Spencer surges with full force. Short and sweet, it features that vibrating keyboard that sounds a little like Spoon. The vocals are soaked in reverb, giving it a haunting tone. Powerful. Vocals at 2.00 stun.
Dan Boeckner's masterpiece. Sublime jangling guitars give way to an emotional highway of broken hearts and jaded minds. Again keyboards work well here, chiming back and forth with cascading guitars.
Bang Your Drum
Spencer's turn. This one sounds most like a Sunset Rubdown song. Operatic and grand it takes a while to warm up, but the second half is truly exciting. The vocals are crystal clear. I just wish it was longer. Take a dive...
Oh, the chorus. The chorus. A live anthem in the making, methinks. A song that comes at you in waves. Waves of drums and that indescribable Wolf Parade keyboard sound. A sad song about your lover leaving you. Ah, Spencer.
The Grey Estates
A fairly straight forward song for Dan. Probably the least memorable song on the album. I mean it is good and all, but for this band it seems rather routine. Still catchy and poppy and I can listen to Dan all day, so there's that.
Fine Young Cannibals
An almost bluesy riff slinks on to the stage. Dan really reaches for it vocally here and absolutely nails it. Haunting and full of great power, this song is more guitar dominant. Builds and builds with great intensity before exploding.
An Animal In Your Care
Spencer returns with his trademark haunting beauty. His vocals echo with a menacing quietness. The piano here is heart stopping. The song builds before overflowing with an outpouring of emotion and heart. Sublime.
Kissing The Beehive
This ten minute epic is destined to become the WP statement. It's great to hear Spencer and Dan going back and forth in an orgy of vocals and sounds. Elaborate, intense, fuelled by the muse of greatness. So much to digest.
So, there you have it. I could go into greater detail, but I just wanted to give you my initial thoughts. Naturally I love it. This band is just so talented I can't ever see a day when they will strike out. The obvious question. How does it compare to "Apologies to the Queen Mary"? It's hard to compare, because these two records were made in two totally different stages of the band. The first album was incubated over a period of time, redoing their EP numbers before knocking it all into a sublime concoction of astounding music. Those songs are dear to my heart and will always remain so. But now in 2008, you can hear the development of Krug and Boeckner as song writers. Their work with Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown has seen them grow in stature as writers and musicians. Listening to this album you can hear a different Wolf Parade beast. I mean it still sounds like a WP album. You know, melodies from another universe, keyboards carved from the golden caves of greatness, lyrics of import, vocals that never let you down. That sort of thing. But this album is grander and more epic. More elaborate. There are tiny little flourishes everywhere. Odd and unusual sounds that reveal themselves to you after every listening. The keyboards and drums are definitely front and centre on this album, beautifully crisp and clear. Arlen Thompson has done a great job. In short, I would say that this is a far more ambitious album then their first. It strives to be a magnificent beast and it succeeds. Absolutely. While there is probably no song as perfect as "I'll Believe in Anything", there are plenty of perfect moments. A shock to this Spencerite is that my two favourite songs so far are "Soldier's Grin" and "Language City". So, life is full of surprises.
Is this the album of 2008? Oh, yes, yes, yes.
I just love how music can make me feel like this. Pure joy.
PS. Listen to this on headphones. It is even better.