Review Summary: You can't go home again.Cry Cry Cry
is the album Wolf Parade should have made in 2008, when Apologies to the Queen Mary
was still blasting from dorm speakers and the wave of rage and optimism that would carry George W. Bush out of the White House was just cresting. Instead, they released At Mount Zoomer
and cemented themselves as the mid-00s indie band for the freaks and the progs, the sort of reputation that led to cult followings for offspring like Moonface, Sunset Rubdown, and Handsome Furs. Their fourth album is a fascinating look at a band traveling backwards in time, a fitting entry in a year where it seems every 2005 band of the year has a new album. The sparkling new wave pop of “You’re Dreaming” is timeless or recycled, depending on your perspective; that it’s a damn fine hook is non-negotiable. The lyrical vitriol has moved from late ‘20s ennui and political dissatisfaction to late ‘30s crises of faith and political contempt, the United States of Donald J. Trump a fitting new whipping boy for Spencer Krug’s and Dan Boeckner’s verbal lashings. The lyrics to tracks like “King of Piss and Paper” and “Artificial Life” demonstrate that the 2016 election weighs heavily on the band, and the band’s way with words – mourning Leonard Cohen’s death the night before the election on “Valley Boy” being a particular highlight – has only been honed with age. It’s punchy and direct, bearing both the influences Krug and Boeckner have accumulated over the years and the steady hand of producer John Goodmanson.
In short, it’s a Wolf Parade album. Much like last year’s EP4
, the aperitif the band dropped prior to a reunion tour, however, it sometimes leans too far on the formulaic side of things to leave a real lasting impact. Expo 86
and the band members’ subsequent adventures proved that the group’s weirder impulses have always been what set them apart. The ramshackle brilliance of Apologies
was lightning in a bottle. Cry Cry Cry
, meanwhile, swings its hips and snarls in all the right places, including the requisite six-minute plus epics in “Baby Blue” and “Weaponized” that mark the midpoint of the record. Yet in the pass-the-mic feel of the songs between Boeckner and Krug, the polished production, and the greatest-hits cataloguing of their finest attributes, the end result is less than the sum of its parts. (On a somewhat related tangent – the inexplicable decision to follow Krug’s fire and brimstone epic “Baby Blue” with “Weaponized,” an extended Boeckner power ballad, leaves the back half of the album struggling to leave its mark, an unfortunate victim of sequencing). Wolf Parade have always worn their derelict charm and slightly wild-eyed fervor as marks of pride. Cry Cry Cry
too often sounds like those sharp edges have been sanded down to beautifully dull corners.