Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry

by Jon Burke Rating:9 Release Date:2017-10-06
Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry
Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry

What becomes apparent from the onerous opening notes of Wolf Parade’s latest, Cry Cry Cry, is that the band has not returned from their six year hiatus to fuck around. While Cry Cry Cry is not a “dark” record per se, there is an acute sense of loss or impending doom hanging over nearly every track. And, while the album as a whole lacks a specific concept, or theme, there is a universal urgency to these songs that hasn’t been present on earlier Wolf Parade releases. The sense one gets is that Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug simply needed to get these songs out as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. The result is Wolf Parade’s most creatively divided record which is also one of their best albums to date.

Though many fans were heartened by 2016’s EP 4, Wolf Parade’s undeniable return to form came with the release of Cry Cry Cry’s lead single, “Valley Boy.” For fans, “Valley Boy” was the quintessential Spencer Krug anthem: emotionally fraught, lyrically dense and timely in its direct confrontation of Leonard Cohen’s death and legacy. Even here there are Trumpian undertones as Krug seems to be asking Cohen directly if he left knowing what was in store:

“The radio’s been playing all your songs/ Talking about the way you slipped away without a care/ Did you know that it was all gonna go wrong? / Did you know that it would all be more than you could bear?

Wolf Parade’s other creative half, Dan Boeckner, spent the band’s hiatus on one of the most prolific and important creative runs in the last decade of independent music. From Handsome Furs to Divine Fits to Operators, Boecker hasn’t rested on his laurels and instead has both broadened the scope of his music, and honed his skills, simultaneously. Thus, while Krug’s songs on Cry Cry Cry sound like his return to making music in the style of Wolf Parade, Boeckner’s songs sound like a continuation of his growth as an artist. Though these songs lack the electronics of Operators, or the raw heartbreak of Divine Fits, Dan Boecker’s contributions to Cry Cry Cry remain epic in their soaring guitar aspirations and lyrical contempt for divisive technology, unchecked capitalism and politics:

“The king he swears all is not lost/ But you know these Pigs they love the trough/ When the coins hit the floor/ We were free but we’re still poor/ We carry on/ Like we we’re sleeping”

The unsung heroes of Cry Cry Cry, as with most Wolf Parade releases, are the band’s rhythm section, drummer Arlen Thompson and bassist Dante DeCaro. Between Krug’s bizarre songwriting and Boecker’s anthemic aspirations, Thompson and DeCaro are put through their paces keeping the train on the tracks. On Cry Cry Cry, Thompson in particular shines on track like “Baby Blue” in which his percussion seems to be a stand-in for an artillery. Similarly, in “Flies on the Sun” Thompson is tasked with keeping-up a languid jazz pace which randomly explodes into a flurry of rapid drum fills throughout the song’s towering conclusion. On “Artificial Life,” DeCaro’s bassline shines through, giving the track a strut it wouldn’t deserve without his effort. Though DeCaro isn’t allowed to shine much on Cry Cry Cry, it is worth noting that his solo EP, Kill Your Boyfriend is worth a listen or twelve.

Cry Cry Cry’s only shortcomings arise from the incongruous places in which Boeckner and Krug’s respective influences contradict one another. These moments are noteworthy because they only serve to highlight Wolf Parade’s perfection when everyone is on the same page. For example, Krug’s clunky piano on “Incantation” undermines both the track’s jungle drums, and Boecker’s sneer, until the song’s chorus erupts almost a minute later. Though infrequent, these occasional imperfections seem to be more a result of the pace in which these songs were produced than any clash between creators. If anything, Cry Cry Cry is a reminder of why the Boeckner/Krug pairing is so perfect. Krug’s odd intensity and theatricality, when combined with Boecker’s massive pop/rock inclinations, lead to epic results. Track six, “Weaponized,” is a distillation of the power of the pairing. As it changes tempo and dynamics, the song highlights each band member’s range and ability in what amounts to a miniature rock opera about leaving home and coming back to find home a lonely, scary place. In short, it’s a gorgeously apocalyptic love song on a record loaded with equally gorgeous songs–each more deeply concerned than the last with Trump’s greasy finger on the nuke button. Now hurry up and give it a listen before the world ends.

 

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