Apologies to the Queen Mary
In the world of independent music there is hype.
And then there is Wolf Parade.
Hailing from the hottest locale in music (Montreal, home of Broken Social Scene, etc), opening for the Arcade Fire (also from Canada), endorsed by Modest Mouse and signed to underground behemoth Sub Pop (home to the Shins and Iron and Wine to name a few); this isn’t just a buzz band, this is a guarantee. Granted, this praise comes a little late seeing as how they were technically a buzz band a couple of months ago. It’s still well deserved. Frankly, they are as good as they should be.
This is the kind of record that makes you love music, reminding you of all your favorite bands while simultaneously creating something fresh; Apologies to the Queen Mary is a bonafide classic indie record.
From the opening pounding drums of “You Are a Runner…” to the exuberant danceable hook of “Grounds for Divorce,” Wolf Parade is bursting with energy and emotion here.
Deftly moving from that hammering drum on the opener to the acoustic-based “Modern World” and then later a gorgeous Walkmen-like ballad “Same Ghost Every Night,” the band more than shows off its considerable range seen only on earlier EP’s. They are the stewing pot of all that is great about indie music, from the Unicorns-like opening of “Fancy Claps” to the Radiohead (a stretch, maybe) echoes on “Dinner Bells.” The shadow of Modest Mouse hangs most prominently over this record, but it’s a graceful presence and serves only to reveal that one can show one’s influence without becoming it.
Yet, while the music soars to new heights, the band never lets it overshadow the lyrical content, retaining its heavy emphasis on memory and reconciliation. The best track on the record, and perhaps the indie anthem of the year, “I’ll Believe in Anything,” opens with a gorgeous riff, bombastic drums and the unforgettable wail, “Give me your eyes/ I need sunshine.” Progressing into a fatalistic tale of what is lost in life, it climaxes beautifully with the line “nobody knows you/and nobody gives a damn,” reaching one of those moments that only this style of music is capable of: simultaneous joy and utter despair.
Although the album would be impeccable if it ended there, it keeps a few more surprises for the very end. The closer “This Hearts on Fire” is the emotional denouement of the album, cutting away to the core of what the entire album has been about. The opening line, “”Sometimes we rock ‘n’ roll/sometimes we stay at home/ this heart’s on fire, this heart’s on fire,” doesn’t just sum up the debut of the year, it sums up all of indie music.