Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7 Release Date:2011-06-27

For this week's sideshow project we present to you Wolf Parade guitarist Dan Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry who collectively refresh our palettes as Handsome Furs. Their third album, Sound Kapital, is soaked in screeching synthesizers and brick-bat heavy beats which are all weighed against the urgent and at times unsettling vocal of Boeckner.

They swoop down like a couple of magpies and rifle through such influential 80s electronic acts as OMD, Depeche Mode and Yazoo. However, if you're searching for a much more modern day comparison you can't go far wrong with Gruff Rhys' Neon Neon project.

We get a belligerent opening with 'When I Get Back' and the full onslaught of Perry's thickly layered synth bounces all round the room while Boeckner does his level best to keep things on an even keel. His soaring vocal and ad nauseum bark of the title is lifted by a driving and ebullient keyboard riff. 'Damage' is less dancey and rather dark in comparison, focusing on the central lyric of the track, "You try to do the right thing, the right thing baby", and could be portraying a catastrophic breakup. This theme continues with the black-hearted 'Bury Me Standing'.

'Memories of the Future' lifts the melancholy electro gloom while Boeckner's militaristic vocal is slick and compelling and Perry wields her pastiche of hacked up bleeps and major key jerks and jolts more than competently. Boeckner repeats "I feel low" throughout the track but the uplifting arrangement acts as a perfect example of juxtaposition. 'Serve the People' sits dead centre on the album and the slow-burning almost fried keyboard sound contrasted with some noisy guitar compliments Boeckner's attack on all things governmental with the line "You kick them in the head, you kick them when they are down, you don't serve them".

If you're going to be picky about this album, its problem is its lack of diversity, which is evident with the rather tired sounding 'What About Us'. With an abundance of sounds and electronic platforms to choose from, I'd expect some more challenging onslaughts especially with the quality of production on show here. 'Repatriated' restores some parity to the album with the clapped beats and the harmony of Perry resonating perfectly against the urchin synths.

The album is sealed with the elongated 'No Feelings' and Boeckner's subdued delivery leaves you with a numbed and withdrawn feeling of disappointment against a monolithic wall of guitar noise. Sound Kapital has its moments but at times it lacks a real edge, while the duo seem more than happy to sit in their comfort zone and not stretch themselves too much.

There are burgeoning foundations built on 'their difficult third album'; we will have to see whether they are able to kick on from here.

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