Wolf Parade, 'At Mount Zoomer' (Sub Pop)

7
At Mount Zoomer
Critical Mass
Label: Sub Pop

by Josh Modell

On 2005's taut Apologies to the Queen Mary, this much-touted Canadian band benefited and suffered from comparison by association: Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock was their A&R guy and producer, and they hung out with Arcade Fire, so surface similarities -- the former's penchant for bendy guitar barks and the latter's penchant for jubilant messiness -- were magnified disproportionately. At Mount Zoomer sounds deliberately weirder and grander, and it should quiet the parallels-even though it was partially recorded at Arcade Fire's studio....

Two marshals head this Parade, with complementary voices and styles: Spencer Krug, who also records as Sunset Rubdown, packs the pomp and slink. Dan Boeckner is more conventional, and at times, sounds like Beck fronting some lost '90s indie band. Neither goes for the easy pop layup, though-Boeckner hops from shiny and bouncy ("Soldier's Grin") to tense and wandering ("Fine young Cannibals"), while Krug's piano-led cabaret creepers ("Bang your Drum") somehow recall both Fiona Apple and David Bowie.

After supporting each other's musings for eight songs, they come together for an epic finale: "Kissing the Beehive" is the disc's sole cowritten piece, with Boeckner setting the mood and Krug cranking the vamp ("you held your cock in the air and you called it a guitar!") over 11 minutes that touch on prog, glam, indie rock, and electro pop. It's an irresistible, exhilarating mix that sounds like no band but Wolf Parade.

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