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Wolf Parade - Wolf Parade EP

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Artist: Wolf Parade

Album: Wolf Parade EP

Label: Sub Pop

Review date: Aug. 7, 2005

The obvious shots at Wolf Parade – namely, that they call to mind the Arcade Fire and that they call to mind Modest Mouse – are at once validated and obviated by the predictable fact that they have significant affiliations with both. But let's ride it out until the end of the paragraph, for what it's worth: like tourmates and fellow Montrealers the Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade play their songs with a certain childlike exuberance, and like tourmates and sometime collaborators Modest Mouse, they have a tendency to get carried away with it. Dan Boeckner's ragged yelp splits the difference between Win Butler and Isaac Brock; big dancey rhythms and quaint instruments line the melodies; suggestions of claustrophobic menace and plain-ol'-weirdness line the lyrics.

Wolf Parade, which is actually the band's third self-titled EP since 2003, is in effect a teaser for the forthcoming and much better Sub Pop album Apologies to the Queen Mary. Eight of the 12 songs on the full-length are lightly updated versions of songs from the EPs, made a little more uniform by universally jacking up the synth-soaked abandon. The two repeats here, "Shine A Light" and "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son," are pretty identical between the releases, give or take an extended intro. "Shine A Light" is the standout, its lush neon verses leading to a simple and compelling chorus; "Runner" seems to phone in the urgency, by way of reverb-heavy staccato drums and overly melodramatic vocal delivery, but its lyrics make up the deficit. At their best, Wolf Parade capitalize on the kind of childish surrealism that suddenly endeared Canada to the indie rock world last year ("I will build a house inside of you / I will go in through the mouth / I will draw three figures on your heart / One of them will be me as a boy / One of them will be me / One of them will be me watching you run"), or at least helped canonize the Arcade Fire's world-as-neighborhood outlook.

The two unique songs on this EP are good, but par-for-the-course and less interesting than their counterparts on Apologies: "Disco Sheets" steps up the post-punk groove and actually sounds more like a more manic Bloc Party than either of the affiliates harped on above; nothing about it really sticks (except Boeckner's adorable pronunciation of the phrase "I'm sorry about the dark"). "Lousy Pictures" isn't indispensable either, though its bed of doo-wopping-then-whirring organs keeps things fairly pleasant. Both songs could call to mind a host of other groups of varying affect – Les Savy Fav, Hot Hot Heat, TV on the Radio – but being memorable on their own terms would be a more ringing endorsement.

The EP format has been favorable enough to Wolf Parade before, but as logic-defying as it sounds, this one just doesn't stand up to Apologies, even with two of the same songs. It's not that the full-length is slicker or has vastly different songwriting; it's that it affords the band’s songs enough room to spread out and react to one another, to forge more complex and complete relationships and in turn offer a totally satisfying impression of what Wolf Parade sounds like beyond the easy comparisons. This EP doesn't show the half of it; Apologies to the Queen Mary is well worth the wait.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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Apologies to the Queen Mary

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