By Ed Jones
Wolf Parade – EP4
Release Date: 17/05/2016
Producer: Wolf Parade
I discovered Wolf Parade a year and a half ago on a jukebox somewhere in Canada, and at the time they were on a 3-year hiatus. This week however, they’ve released their first new material since Expo ’86 in 2011, and it almost feels like they’ve never been away. As much as I’d love to say I’ve been a fan for years (It feels like I have) it’s not been that long since hearing the anthemic I’ll Believe in Anything for the first time, but that first time I did was like joining an old friend in a beer soaked sing-a-long. Hearing their new EP, while not having quite the same impact, is still something of momentous occasion.
Made up of some of the most prolific artists in indie rock, (between the bands five members they have been in eleven bands, lead singes Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner have six and five respectively) Wolf Parade carved out something of an eccentric niche. The Springsteen-esque realism of Boeckner’s songs mixed with the agitated, manic fantasy of Krug’s shouldn’t work on paper, they’re too opposed, but in reality it’s almost the perfect combination. Their first album I’ll Believe in Anything was a cathartic, chaotic piece that never fails to lift my mood and EP4 feels as though they may recapture that same magic 11 years after their first album.
Kicking things off with Automatic, a Boeckner lead track, though the lyrics seem straight out of something Krug would write on his less fantastical trips, it’s a little short, and has a very very misleading opening bar, it’s nothing special, but a decent way to open an EP. However, as is always the case, it’s Krug’s two tracks that are the real draw for me, Mr Startup is a weirdly normal song, written more in a stream of consciousness style like Krug’s side project Moonface. Its opening lyrics captivated me; ‘Danny says he’s quit designing clothes/He’s getting into jazz and staying home/He is like Picasso drawing in the sand’. It’s such a beautiful image and the laid back rhythm of the song is simply joyous.
Krug’s lyricism has always been a major draw for me, I ravenously track down anything he’s been associated with. Often it’s the fantastical weirdness of it, but it’s also quite uplifting, songs like I’ll Believe in Anything or The Taming of the Hands that Came Back to Life (From Krug’s other side project, the sadly defunct Sunset Rubdown) fill me with pure joy. Something that he’s managed to do again with both his songs on EP4, the aforementioned Mr Startup, and album standout C’est La Vie Way, are both fantastic examples. C’est La Vie Way in particular, with lyrics such as ‘So I, I’ll try and be a decent partner/Try to keep the teardrops off your face/Be kind enough to regard’ are heartfelt enough to be meaningful, but still retaining a sense of ‘fuck the world’ joy.
Boeckner closes the album with the strong, but again slightly too short Floating World. This is easily one of my favourite Boeckner songs since Radio Kalinigrad (from one of his side projects Handsome Furs) it’s jittery and fast, but filled with clever lyrics and a killer marching beat.
EP4 isn’t the bands greatest work by any means, the densely layered sonic walls of Apologies to the Queen Mary have long since gone, being replaced with a slightly more accessible, but by no means less eccentric style. But it’s still nice that the band have managed to retain the same sense of joy and wonder that hooked me in the first place, and ahead of seeing them for the first time in June, this is a nice little teaser for whatever the crackpot genius’ come up with next. Just watch the live performance of I’ll Believe in Anything and you’ll understand why this is a special band.
Verdict – WWW