There’s something so intrinsically pleasant about a group like Wolf Parade reforming despite the fact that the Montreal four-piece never really set the world ablaze with their brand of vibrant, multicoloured indie rock. After eight years they gave up the ghost and moved onto different things. Yet, seven years later here we are with same key players and a new album to boot. This kind of reunion doesn’t feel like some flagrant cash grab or attempt to milk nostalgia tendrils of listeners who are closer to forty than thirty. It feels like they came back together because they had more to say and the most appropriate banner for that was the moniker they retired. There’s just something so nice about that. Listening to their latest album, Cry Cry Cry, through this filter lends it a warm aura which bolsters some great songwriting. It isn’t perfect by any stretch and at times it’s messy as the band members don’t play to their strengths as much as they should. But it is still a welcome addition to their catalog and a, really, it’s just nice treat in the middle of October.
The gang’s work is at its strongest when things are turned right up to 11 with smatters of guitars, keys, and emotions over a tight indie rock backdrop. All played with an energetic streak that manages to be simultaneously reverent and reckless. The more colour and bounce the better. There are two chief songwriters here, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner and each of them has their own style. Krug’s compositions owe more to the likes of Chad Van Galeen’s guitar rock, where Boeckner’s lean heavily on the piano. The clear delineation and alternation between these two styles make sure that the collection retains a sense of spontaneity. There are a few cuts here that capture the band exactly where they should be. First is the opener, ‘Lazarus Online’, which is this bombastic, almost Morrissy-ian tale of suicide survival and strength. It’s a curious note to begin the proceedings with but it actually fits surprisingly well and sets the atmosphere for the album neatly. ‘Artificial Life’ is this noisy indie number that keeps a welcome smidge of the Cars in it’s DNA. The real show stopper here though is ‘Incantation’ which rollicks along with jaunty piano runs and a dynamite brass section. It is in these moments that you really begin to the feel the absence of this songwriting duo and the magic they could conjure.
Sadly though, the record can’t really sustain these moments for much of it’s running time. It makes two major missteps with the back-to-back six-minute epics of ‘Baby Blue’ and ‘Weaponized’, which really don’t have enough meat on their bones to justify their length. Similarly, ‘Who Are You?’ is a fairly obnoxious slice could have soured the goodwill had it lacked such a great verse. The rest of the record of solid if unexceptional. Cry Cry Cry is like meeting an old friend you’d thought you’d never see again. Not quite your best friend, but someone whose company you always appreciated. While it won’t change your life or redefine your sense of self, there’s a pure and simple joy in spending time in their company. Will Murphy