Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
Jordy: It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been four years since this album dropped. I remember hearing it that fall of 2005 and thinking “This is exactly how I want rock to sound: fast, hooky, dark, and triumphant.” Isaac Brock earned his short keep as a Sub Pop A&R man and producer with this record and, in that light, I can only hope that his last four years’ energies haven’t been wasted on mere Modest Mouse albums. He found this band right when they needed it. They sound hungry. (Not that they made any money necessarily.)
The opener “You are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son” is a real ass-kicker and introduces the listener to Spencer Krug’s two greatest offerings: really cool yelping vocals (which aren’t nearly as Tiny Tim-esque as some haters might assert) and pounding keyboard grooves. I was sticking my waxy earbuds in everyone’s face that October saying, “You have to hear this shit!”
I’ll leave some of the other highlights to Glenn but not before I claim the two greatest back-to-back tracks of the indie era. “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” features Krug’s very best lyrical turns powered by high swirling organ and en invigorating la-la-la chorus and you’d think you couldn’t get higher. Until the next track. “I’ll Believe in Anything” is nothing less than a glorious stomping hymn in earnest praise of, well, Anything. Incredible. This pair still gives me chills after hundreds of listens. The songs are truly durable in their form and sentiment.
Glenn: Durable is right, Jordy. I must admit that at first this album struck me as just another indie rock record. “Bound Arcade Pornographers, Broken Social Pitchfork….meh.” That stuff is good but it gets…old. It was about six months later that I found myself humming “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son” and “Grounds For Divorce” to myself, trying to keep my balance on the snow-slick streets of Chicago in winter. These are solid, catchy songs.
For me, this is a record that sounds like warmth in the midst of cold. I’m not sure why, exactly — perhaps because I first loved it in winter — but it might have to do with the sound of struggle on the record. While the band is a well-oiled groove machine (what indie rock is this furious and yet this danceable?), the songs seem to grapple their way upward from real pain toward sunlight and joy. And not in an emo way, either. When he says, “I need sunshine,” you believe him. Triumph, indeed.
One more thing: remember all those “Wolf” bands circa 2005? That was funny.
4 Essential Tracks:
“You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son”
“Grounds for Divorce”
“Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”
“I’ll Believe In Anything“