Reviewing this album was my first experience listening to any Wolf Parade songs extensively. The four piece group from Montreal does what it can to create a sound that is distinguishable and (to me, upon first listening) surprising. How often this happens to me with music—I listen to an album and I’m kind of like “huh…”—and then I listen to the same song for a second time, and then a third time, and then by the fourth time I’m literally looking up the price of tickets to go see the band live. I was debating going all the way up to Cleveland to see this group and I’m not even sure I consider myself a fan yet… just intrigued.
My favorite song on the album is “Artificial Life.”It has the best combination of awesome riffs forged with beautiful melodies, thought-provoking lyrics, and energy.Energy and passion are infused into the mix and baked together to make this explosive stand-out record on an album that was pretty high caliber already. As it’s the tenth song on the album, right behind “King of Piss and Paper,”you have to wait for it patiently.
From my perspective—one rooted in mostly rock music, pop, soul, and reggae—this album has a variety of appealing traits. The number one most impressive aspect was its melodies. The guitar riffs were fantastic. I went through and rated each component of the instrumental section of the music by beauty, distinctiveness, precision and energy and the guitar and synth were the most arresting. The bass-line was average, doing the job that had to be done to create a low toned foundation to the rest of the music, but not in a distinct nor particularly entertaining way. The drums, also, did their job, but the rhythms they produced were not memorable. By far the most fascinating aspect of the music was the guitar and synthesizer, which blasted out some melodies that, trust me, are worth hearing.
I like to say that if a singer has a distinguishable voice, they tend to be more entertaining even than someone with a better, but predictable, voice. That is to say, a singer ideally has a good voice and an interesting voice!. Luckily,Wolf Parade’s singers Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner both have very adept and distinguishable vocal talent. Even if their vocal style is inspired by other popular indie rock acts, their voices make you stop and listen. They were interesting, and that alone says a lot about a singer.
Here’s the last thing I’ll say: Wolf Parade makes an effort for their lyrics to be meaningful and analytical of society outside its music. Listening to some of the songs for the first time, you will probably be confused. The sentence construction is vague, full of allusions, and not merciful on the first-time listener’s comprehensibility. I am not saying this to imply that their profundity is bad, but it is somewhat confusing at points. I was able to reap a greater understanding of the message of the group specifically in “Artificial Life”, “Incantation”, and “King of Piss and Paper”. Those lyrics are profoundly critical and honest, and they touched me the most.
The drawbacks of the album included the fact that some of the lyrics and phrasing were opaque, a few instrumental and vocal sequences were drawn out, and parts of the instrumentation were uninteresting. The positive aspects included that the guitar and synthesizer melodies were original and pleasing to the ear, the message conveyed in the vocals was profound and thought-provoking, and the style of the vocals was distinct and interesting. Cry Cry Cry has you feeling like you’re not quite on Earth anymore, and yet you feel oddly at home in it.