For the tens of thousands of Wolf Parade fans, two dates will long be etched in their minds. November 5, 2010 was the day when the world stopped as Spencer Krug, Dan Boeckner, Dante DeCaro, and Arlen Thompson share the two words every music fan detests – “indefinite hiatus”. They would play two festival shows in 2011, but nothing more. Most pundits and fans thought the hiatus would be two or three years to allow the gents to focus on other projects, but as 2013 turned to 2014 and then 2015, even the most diehard Wolf Parade fan conceded that the band may no longer write music. There was, however, always a glimmer of hope. For instance, When I met Dan Boeckner at the 2015 Ottawa Bluesfest, where he was performing with Operators, and asked him whether Wolf Parade would ever release new material, he said with a slight grin, “You never know.”
Then on January 14, 2016, Wolf Parade made a short and sweet announcement on Twitter.
Hi, we are Wolf Parade
— Wolf Parade (@WolfParade) January 14, 2016
That was shortly followed by this tweet:
Wolf Parade unthaws, engages in social media like: pic.twitter.com/7VohcJU52J
— Wolf Parade (@WolfParade) January 14, 2016
The internet, of course, went nuts and media sites from around the globe shared the news. It was a joyous occasion that was only heightened by the band announcing a tour. What people were craving, though, was for some new music, to hear that distinctive buzzsaw, Wolf Parade sound of Krug hammering on his keys and synthesizers with his proggy tendencies, Boeckner playing his crystal-clear and edgy guitar, Thompson crushing his drum kit like there’s no tomorrow, and DeCaro doing his duties on bass of bringing together the diverse styles into one harmonious sound.
On Friday, May 27th – another day that will go down in Wolf Parade’s mythology – the foursome released Wolf Parade – EP 4. The four songs, the first since 2010’s Expo ’86, are like an appetizer – a sampling that offers a reintroduction to the band’s sound while whetting our appetites for what could be on the horizon.
“Automatic” is the ideal starter for those who are familiar with or might be new to hearing Wolf Parade’s music. Musically, the song is the perfect harmonization of Krug’s more experimental orientation and Boeckner’s more high-tempo infusion of indie rock, pop, and synth-pop. It is also a great opener with its positive outlook on life and what the future holds, which hopefully is a reference to the band’s continued longevity.
On “Mr. Startup“, Krug takes the reins and offers a melodic rock tune that channels some of the great acts in music history. It echoes the dark, cosmic rock of David Bowie while incorporating the distinctive industrial sound of mid-1970s Manchester. If Krug’s vocals were a couple of octaves deeper, the song could have very well been a Joy Division tune with Ian Curtis at the helm.
“C’est La Vie Way” is a surprise. While Wolf Parade have never been shy to sprinkle in a bit of crystalline guitars, they go shoegaze in A Place to Bury Strangers mode. But as typical in a Krug-led song, the arrangements don’t stay stagnant, veering from a ’90s-style, pop-rock approach a la The Killers to finishing off with a Bowie-esque vib. While the song is a vow to a loved one, it could also be an oath among the band to see the journey to the end.
The EP’s ultimate track is the aptly titled “Floating World”, which could describe the band’s past five-plus years of performing in multiple bands and outfits and extending their limits. It is also the one song on the album that feels like it could be on one of Wolf Parade’s previous albums, namely Expo ’86. In addition, “Floating World”, if the little snippet from their performance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert is any indication, could be an awesome rocker live. Heck, anything Wolf Parade does live will surely be a face melter.
With Wolf Parade – EP 4, it feels like the band never had a hiatus. They sound as tight as before and the music continues to be fresh, new, and enduring. That is a testament to the greatness of Wolf Parade, who for 8 years prior to their hiatus had an unmatched ability to connect with a wide-range of fans with their music and onstage presence. They now must regain the trust of those they turned off, recapture the imaginations of long-time fans, and engage younger audiences. EP 4 is a great start, but let’s hope this is only the first sampling of a multi-course experience. I can say for many of us here, we cannot wait to experience what Wolf Parade has to offer for months to come and reclaim their spot among Canada’s great bands.
Wolf Parade are Arlen Thompson (drums/production), Dante DeCaro (bass), Dan Boeckner (vocals/guitar/keys), and Spencer Krug (vocals/keys/synth).
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