CD Review of Plague Park by Handsome Furs
Recommended if you like
Echo & the Bunnymen, Wolf Parade, Joy Division
Label
Sub Pop
Handsome Furs:
Plague Park

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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F
or all their hype, critical acclaim and ever-growing devoted fanbase, Wolf Parade’s breakthrough debut Apologies to Queen Mary sure sounded a hell of a lot like a cross between Modest Mouse and the Arcade Fire – probably because it was produced by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, and the fact that Wolf Parade is another in a long line of Canadian indie-rockers who really liked Talking Heads.

Regardless, a group of Canadian indie-rockers that sound like Modest Mouse is the kind of thing that pretentious rock critics and self-righteous hipster pricks wet themselves over, and they all sure as hell went ga-ga batshit nuts for Apologies to Queen Mary.

Now following in the footsteps of every other indie-rock group in the Great North, Wolf Parade’s members have all used this critical acclaim and attention to start work on side-projects. Spencer Krug went off to form Swan Lake with Daniel Bejar (completing Wolf Parade’s six-degrees-to-the-New-Pornographers in just three steps) and Dante DeCaro started up Johnny and the Moon. While both of these bands feature members from other Canadian indie bands, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner didn’t go searching the clubs and concert halls for his side project bandmates, he just grabbed his wife Alexi Perry to form Handsome Furs.

As a twosome, the band features Boeckner on vocals, while both he and his wife take turns rocking out on guitar and drum machine. The minimalist, slightly-electronic feeling is the anti-Modest Mouse, and reminds one more of ‘80s post-punk rockers like Echo & the Bunnymen. Unlike fellow ‘80s-influenced bands like Editors and She Wants Revenge, Boeckner’s Handsome Furs aren’t just trying to be a Joy Division tribute band, and they take the haunting themes and musical style of those bands and make them their own with tremendous results.

Given the fact that the follow-up to Wolf Parade’s debut is one of the most anticipated indie albums of whatever year it will eventually be released, it’s doubtful that we’ll be seeing another Handsome Furs record anytime soon. That’s a shame, because while Boeckner and wife’s side project isn’t as tailor-made for indie-rocker cred as his more well-known band, it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining.

And unlike Apologies to Queen Mary, it doesn’t sound like a Canadian indie-rock record produced by a dude from Modest Mouse.

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