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Wolf Parade Cry Cry Cry

posted 8 Jan 2018, 03:46 by Scene Alba Magazine

4 stars
Art often reflects the expressions of an artist’s experiences. These experiences can vary from tragedies to romances, from their failures to triumphs, or their views on the social, cultural and political environment around them. No matter what is expressed, the art consumer (or in this case, listener) looks to how it’s expressed, the lens in which one distills these experiences, to attach emotional investment and critical weight upon the art in question.

With this in mind, it’s fascinating to hear how little time has changed the sound of Wolf Parade and how much it still works in their favour on Cry Cry Cry, their first album in seven years. Straightforward, accessible indie rock remains their tried and true formula even when taking technology, identity and death to task in the year 2017. Opening with the dramatic piano-led “Lazarus Online,” a biblical figure takes the shape of a fan’s redemption from death, having been saved by the Montreal band’s music. Co-frontman Spencer Krug follows this train of thought to a cautiously optimistic viewpoint – fighting for the will to live in the face of inevitable death. The piano hammers away as layers of airy synthesizer, palm-muted guitars and booming toms fill out the dark night we must “rage against.”

If time off has given the group anything, it’s a sense of growth and maturity. Tighter, economical songwriting and strong, passionate performances thread across Cry Cry Cry’s eleven tracks, even when the driving indie rock starts to run out of gas around the second half of “Who Are Ya” until the end of “King of Piss and Paper.” Arguably, the album’s best moments can be found in its first half.

Second single “You’re Dreaming” lyrically hints at fragmentation and overstimulation from technology next to playful, sugary keyboards interweaving with stabs of distorted guitar. “Valley Boy” recalls Leonard Cohen’s life and death, achieving similar musical and thematic scopes with wide, panoramic guitars and an especially impassioned vocal performance with Krug’s proclamations on the public’s mourning with various references to his body of work. Wolf Parade’s grand, sweeping indie rock serves as the lens in which they make sense of, and how they express, the great loss that accompanies death – both intimate (“Lazarus Online”) and highly public (“Valley Boy”).

Other notable highlights include the seamless layers of piano, guitar, and synthesizer continually building towards a thrilling climax on “Flies on the Sun,” along with “Baby Blue” where the group flexes their muscles with a tight, well-crafted jam that leads to a similarly exciting end. Even as Wolf Parade’s sonic palette becomes overly familiar, bordering on monotonous near the last few tracks, the album benefits from consistently solid songwriting and performances that never try to be too flashy, only showcasing the group’s talent for composition and dynamics. Despite lacking sonic reinvention, Cry Cry Cry stands as Wolf Parade’s best album since Apologies, marrying a familiar indie rock sound to a new decade’s complex, uncertain cultural and musical landscape.