According to an old adage, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. From the first hard percussive slap of Apologies to the Queen Mary, Wolf Parade’s new album sounds more than a little like Funeral, the year-old album from The Arcade Fire. But to say that the Canadian alt-rockers are merely imitating The Arcade Fire’s distinctive, multi-instrumental cacophony would be unfair. The two bands have shared quite a bit – stages, a tour and their hometown of Montreal, and it would be easy to pawn Wolf Parade off as a bunch of wannabes, but the best thing about them is that they’re anything but.
Produced by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, Apologies to the Queen Mary shows distinctive signs of its origins and influences. But instead of mimicking the bands that have surrounded and inspired them, Wolf Parade makes something that is completely their own.
Where The Arcade Fire becomes tiresome, Wolf Parade showcases surprising instrumentation that is rarely repetitive. Where Brock’s voice grates and scrapes, band member Boeckner’s swaggers and swings through affecting lyrics like “You know our hearts beat time out very slowly / They’re waiting for something that’ll never arrive,” and “God doesn’t always have the best god damn plans does he?”
On Apologies, it initially seems as if Wolf Parade has no idea where they’re going musically, and they don’t care. From the high, jumping vocals of the new-wave-y “Grounds for Divorce” to the cowbell-splattered silky swirl of “Dinner Bells,” it sounds like the band is jamming just for themselves.
But Wolf Parade creates more than just a jumbled handful of songs with their debut, and by the last strains of the strum and beep of “This Heart is On Fire,” it’s clear that the band knows the value of what they’ve made.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars