The latest big thing from Montreal sounds a lot like last year’s big thing from Montreal, The Arcade Fire, but minus the extraneous instruments and calculated drama. That isn’t to say Wolf Parade is dry or minimalist, only that they rely more on songwriting than on presentation.
Much has been made of the fact that their debut is produced by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and that keyboardist Spencer Krug sings in the kind of constricted bleat Brock uses with his own band. But then there’s the other singer, guitarist Dan Boeckner, who has a more classic rock delivery. These two alternate exceedingly well on songs that rarely break the four-minute mark but feel epic in scope, probably because each one contains so many intelligent ideas none of which repeat themselves from one track to another. “When rust sits in the light just right/it looks like gold,” Krug sings on “I’ll Believe in Anything,” making it clear that there’s no shame in appropriating the past as long as you do something interesting with it. I could say that “It’s a Curse” reminds me of prime Dwight Twilley or that “This Heart’s On Fire” sounds a lot like the Boss himself, but then I would also have to say they sound better.