The year of 2017 has been the end of hiatuses for many bands. Reasons for this point towards last year’s election, where many musicians have material they can finally use. One of these bands that fall into this category is, Wolf Parade. After a seven-year lapse from their 2010 EP, Expo 86, the sub pop group is back with a slightly tweaked sound on their newest album, Cry Cry Cry.
The dynamic duo of Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner bring a more politicized and personal approach to their latest effort. While they haven’t quite lived up to their unprecedented excellent debut with, Apologizes to the Queen Mary, every time they release something, people are intrigued. Even if it does take them seven years. On Cry Cry Cry, Wolf Parade is the closest that they’ve come quality wise to their first record.
They took a style of music that should be outdated, and modernized it with gorgeous synth leads, and instrumentals that jump off of the track. They also have a knack for incorporating grand up-tempo production with bleak lyrics, like on the percussion-driven “Who Are Ya.”
While there are some stale moments here, notably on the monotonous “Baby Blue,” and lengthy “Weaponized,” those lower points can be forgotten because of the overwhelming highs sprinkled all over this record. They sound like a band that is having some type of mid-life crisis, but wants to hide it with happiness and poppy instrumentation.
The use of piano riffs on this album is extraordinary, especially on the first half of the record. Krug and Boeckner keeps on our toes at every moment here, and part of the mystery of what will happen next on each song is what makes this an enjoyable listening experience. From the dark, and haunting opener, “Lazarus Online,” to the dreamy electronic synth driven closer, “King of Piss and Paper,” the duo makes everything generally unpredictable.
While My Apologies to the Queen Mary was a surprisingly imaginative addition to the sub pop genre, Cry Cry Cry is Wolf Parade tweaking their sound for a more modern feel. Krug and Boekcner make sure that they don’t forget about their influences as well, especially on the fast paced, Bowie-influenced, “Your’e Dreaming.” It still amazes me how smooth these guys can transition from a menacing piano ballad on the intro, to a twinkling optimistic follow-up track.
“Incantation” is another major high point, where another piano riff kicks off the song, leading into an explosion of horns and percussion that never sounds over-produced. Instead of hitting your ear drums like a baseball bat, the instrumentals come together rather rhythmically.
It’s not until we enter their mid-life crisis with them on “Flies on the Sun,” do we really understand their thoughts on the importance of time. The duo finds themselves creatively changing up certain background mixing, especially with the aforementioned addition of electronic synthesizers.
When we get to the latter half of this album, Krug and Boeckner give us a glorious finale as if it were a movie.
The record kind of seems like it is split into two parts, with the first part urging people to follow their dreams, and the second half asks people who they really are. While the themes don’t totally work in harmony throughout the entire 47 minute running time, the superior music itself overshadows the message completely.
The Canadien group does their best Coldplay impression on my personal favorite, “Am I an Alien Here.” The lead guitar riff, and vocal edits, sound like a song off of Parachutes.
This is the type of record where each time you listen through, you find something different about the album that never truly hit you the previous listen. That’s why Cry Cry Cry is ultimately effective. Wolf Parade shows us why they haven’t missed a beat after seven years off, and they create a distinct and memorable experience that will be part of my personal favorites for the year.