Release Date: Jun 28, 2011
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
"When I get back home/I won't be the same no more," growls Handsome Furs frontman Dan Boeckner on "When I Get Back," the opening track on the band's third album. Boeckner and his wife Alexei Perry's danceable electronic-pop sound belies the album's often melancholy themes of love, self-discovery and rebirth. On "Repatriated," against wah-wah guitar and drum-machine throb, Boeckner moans, "I've seen the future and it's coming in low/I've seen the future/I will never be repatriated." Sweaty and urgent, Sound Kapital is a snapshot of a dark world with hard-fought glimmers of euphoria.
Much of what can be said about Dan Boekner relates in some way to the undeniably brilliant partnership in Wolf Parade between he and bandmate Spencer Krug. But with an indefinite hiatus throwing Wolf Parade onto the backburner and pushing solo projects from both Krug and Boeckner to the foreground (Krug released his first album as Moonface not too long ago), Boekner has invested much of his energy into Handsome Furs with wife Alexei Perry. Unlike Krug, whose solo release had fallen victim to unrestricted freedom, Boekner and Perry has honed a craft of electronica that ranks well with anything Wolf Parade has recorded.
Up to this point, it's been somewhat difficult to listen to the broke-down electro-pop of Handsome Furs without imagining what Dan Boeckner's more established band, Wolf Parade, might do to elaborate on it. Though the projects sound very different, his songs for both bands rely heavily on his bleary-eyed lyricism and jagged guitar chug. But as Boeckner could tell you, there's an easy way to get people to stop comparing your side project to your main gig: just break up the latter.
Review Summary: "When I get back / when I get back home / I won't be the same no more." Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Wolf Parade put itself on an innocently innocuous “indefinite hiatus” just as half of its songwriting core prepared to release an album that firmly situated himself as an individual talent separate from that seminal Canadian group. It’s probably just as well; Wolf Parade were beginning to look like the new Broken Social Scene, a musical tree from which other acts and talents could grow and develop under its critically acclaimed shadow. The problem was that those side projects were well on their way to eclipsing Wolf Parade itself.
Dan Boeckner is a rock god. If that sounds a little cheesy, a little ‘80s rock charts, that’s part of the point. Boeckner wields both of his primary instruments—an abused guitar and that beautiful, strong, unhinged voice of his—with an enthusiasm and charisma that at once paradoxically recall the arena titans and punk heroes of the early ‘70s and 1980s.
HANDSOME FURS hit the Garrison June 18, 1 am, as part of NXNE. See listing. Rating: NNNN When rock spouses Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry made their fantastic Face Control album in 2009, they were already a well-travelled band. Their journeys through remote eastern European regions informed that record's aesthetic and revealed the Handsome Furs' burgeoning anthropological taste for exploring/documenting cultures.
Even though Canadian bands Wolf Parade and the Handsome Furs share Dan Boeckner’s instantly recognizable vocals, the latter have gone to great lengths to make a name for themselves. With Plague Park (2007) and Face Control (2008), Boeckner and his wife, keyboardist Alexei Perry, grew into more than just a side project to Wolf Parade. Throughout their history as a band, however, you could always hear the harder, grungy synthesizers yearning to break free from the New Wave-y, almost Strokesian guitar lines.
With Wolf Parade now officially on (the increasingly clichéd sounding) 'indefinite hiatus', Dan Boeckner's Handsome Furs return with a third record that signals a continuation of Plague Park and Face Control's assured steps away from Wolf Parade's buzzing and rattling indie-rock melodicism. If the progress between each Handsome Furs record seems gradual and tentative the disparity between Sounds Kapital's high-gloss electronic finish and metronomic beats and Boeckner's former 'full-time' band is quite striking. Sound-wise the real differences between the record and its predecessor are relatively subtle sonic changes as opposed to a great stylistic reinvention.
First off, the full-frontal shot of a naked woman on the cover of Handsome Furs’ third album, Sound Kapital, hardly reflects their music. In fact, it might be a way of overcompensating for a more traditional record. For this one, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and his wife, Alexei Perry, put down the guitars to craft songs entirely out of keyboards and drum machines, and this smoothed-out synth pop approach puts them in the same wheelhouse as mainstream acts like Phoenix and Hot Chip, which doesn't entirely suit them.
[b]‘Machines Have Feelings Too’[/b] is [a]Handsome Furs[/a]’ self-proclaimed mission statement with this third album. Its nine tracks were composed solely on keyboards as the duo – [b]Wolf Parade[/b] guitarist Dan Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry – forced themselves into a new songwriting regime. The experiment is mostly successful, particularly on outstanding album centrepiece [b]‘Serve The People’[/b], where grinding, paranoid synths underpin Boeckner’s impassioned vocal (“[i]You kick them in the head/And you kick them when they’re down/You don’t serve them[/i]”).