Published May 18, 2016Six years following their hiatus, Wolf Parade have returned to the land of the active, with a fresh EP in tow. Though their output has become increasingly divided between duelling frontmen Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug, their latest release marks the band's most cohesive effort since their debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, while also bearing the mark of lessons learned in the decade since.
Pairing Apologies' speed and anxiety with poppier song structures, the tunes themselves forge their own identities within the larger Wolf Parade canon: "Mr. Startup" channels Joy Division's post-punk rumbling, while a tightly wound instrumental intro adds glam flair to "C'est La Vie Way." The release also demonstrates the band's biggest strength in the third-act shakeup, blowing each song wide open following the bridge to careen toward a satisfying finale, best shown in the half-time breakdown of "C'est La Vie Way" and the riff-rock climax of "Automatic."
There are definitely kinks: certain moments on this EP are disjointed and muddled, as the band throw loose riffs out into the ether and hope they'll stick, but the hooks and verve that made the band successful in the first place are still potent. And though the songs feel fully realized, there's also a sense that the songs are incubatory; using EPs as a launching point for road testing is exactly what the band did in the lead-up to Apologies, and the idea that there might still be work left remains on this release. That's this EP's purpose: it gives the fans what they want in the form of new Wolf Parade tunes, but also puts the band back in the studio to iron out the kinks.
The band's first three EPs were the sound of very talented musicians learning to play together, assembling the moving parts then slowly fine-tuning them to create the well-oiled machine that was Apologies. The choice to start again with an EP is an inspired one: it gives the band something to work with before they take it out on the road, to get them back into shape to record that long-awaited forthcoming full-length. (Independent)