The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Wolf Parade avoids sophomore slump

Canadian indie-pop enthusiasts Wolf Parade return with “At Mount Zoomer,” a stellar follow-up to the 2005 debut release, “Apologies to the Queen Mary.” It’s not clear what the band was apologizing for, but all was surely forgiven shortly after the record’s release. The quartet had crafted an album worthy of a “best of the year” award. Keyboards, straightforward guitar melodies and simple drumbeats propelled Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug’s somewhat annoying but greatly effective vocal work. Wolf Parade’s debut was chock full of brilliant pop, danceable tunes and straightforward rock ‘n’ roll.

Creating a second album in the shadow of one that’s critically acclaimed has to be extremely difficult for a band. Do you follow the same formula and end up with something that sounds just like the first? At least you know there’s an audience for it. Do you change your musical direction altogether and hope that fans will follow suite? That can be dangerous.

With “At Mount Zoomer” it appears the members of Wolf Parade decided to stick with what they know, and fortunately for them, it works. However, the album doesn’t sound like it should be called “Even More Apologies to the Queen Mary,” nor does it sound like a bunch of cuts left on the production floor. “At Mount Zoomer” is yet another solid Wolf Parade release that stands up on all fours.

The songwriting appears to have stayed close to the same, but it’s as if there was a conscious effort to not produce a regurgitated sound. The basic indie-pop feel is there – keyboards, synthesizers and surf-rock guitars held together by fairly simple drumming. Arrangements are different as well as the overall sound mix. This time around, the band did not enlist the help of Modest Mouse singer Isaac Brock as with the first record. Wolf Parade took it upon itself to produce its own record, and it really shows. Tracks are fine-tuned and it’s easy to see the lads spent a lot of time getting things just right. Songs clock in at reasonable times, from three to six minutes, except for a 10-minute closer called “Kissing the Beehive” that drags on about four too long. Still, “Beehive” is a good ending for the nine-track experience.

While there might not be as many songs on “At Mount Zoomer” that immediately start wild dance parties or instant grooving, the overall experience of the album is a lot more gratifying than the band’s debut. Even as good as it was, “Apologies to the Queen Mary” was easy to get tired of rather quickly. Songs worked better listened to individually rather than as an entire package. The opposite is true with “At Mount Zoomer.” Tracks tend to lead into the next, yet still contain the hooks needed to be successful songs individually. Tracks such as “Call It A Ritual” and “The Grey Estates” feel as if they belong in a different decade entirely, complete with piano melodies Jerry Lee Lewis would be proud of. However, whether it’s the 1950s or the distant future, it isn’t quite clear where Wolf Parade wants to be. But as long as people still have ears to listen, the band should continue to thrive.

The members of Wolf Parade have shown that they’re not ready to call it quits after one album. “At Mount Zoomer” is a great summer release that proves it’s possible for a band to be something other than a one-trick pony, or, in this case, a one-trick wolf.

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