Believe the Hype!
In 2005, Wolf Parade released Apologies to the Queen Mary into a welcoming boom of hyperbole and adulation that continued the tradition of interesting debut albums since the turn of the millennium. Three years and two albums from side projects (Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs) later, this indie-darling quartet returns with At Mount Zoomer and yes, there’s still something for everyone to shout about.
Wolf Parade’s sophomore effort packs just as much swashbuckling intensity as their debut, fettered by newly found focus yet with undiminished impact. The awkwardly magnetic hooks of “A Soldier’s Grin” and “Call It a Ritual” slide right into more ear-catching melodies like “Language City” and “Bang Your Drum” which are themselves completely at home alongside the blindly ambitious “Kissing the Beehive” and “California Dreamer.”
The latter pair of cuts are where At Mount Zoomer achieves solidarity as an album. “California Dreamer,” starting somber yet swelling to a joyous explosion of synths and guitars, yields a strange dichotomy through Spencer Krug’s lyrics of utopian disappearance: “Do the young stay pretty, do the pretty stay quick? / You know, but you never surrender / The city doesn’t belong to you any more, California dreamer.” Traditionally after a song like this, an album might tend to take a breather. Here, the band launches into “The Grey Estates,” the most driving and poppiest cut. Rolling through “Fine Young Cannibals” and “An Animal in Your Care,” all that’s left is the thunderous 11-minute conclusion “Kissing the Beehive.”
That final note of At Mount Zoomer is the only time the listener is given a rest, and rightfully so. Wolf Parade have officially removed that “Next Modest Mouse” tag placed on them after their debut, stuck to their guns, upped their artistic ante a couple of notches and delivered what is sure to be one of the best albums of 2008.