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The Leader of the Pack

Wolf Parade splinter group Handsome Furs delivers an electro-rock manifesto with Sound Kapital.

By Alex Hudson 30 Jun 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Alex Hudson writes for various music publications and runs a blog called Chipped Hip.

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Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry -- lovers in a dangerous time.

Just a month ago, Wolf Parade came to Vancouver to play its final show prior to a planned indefinite hiatus. Many fans -- myself included -- assumed that the dissolution of the celebrated band meant that everything would go downhill for frontmen Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug. Boy, were we wrong.

This week (June 28), Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry released their third album as Handsome Furs. Entitled Sound Kapital, this collection of clubby bangers and synth-spiked techno just might be the songwriter's best work yet.

Despite marking a shift away from live instrumentation, the nine tracks on Sound Kapital aren't a huge departure from the guitar-driven ragers that Boeckner penned for Wolf Parade. He still specializes in fist-pumping anthems, with brisk tempos and propulsive rhythms that push towards rousing, shout-along refrains.

Just listen to the standout "Bury Me Standing," which starts as a subtly atmospheric dance groove before swelling to a triumphantly noisy climax. "Repatriated" employs a similar formula, using a pulse-racing Eurodance rhythm as the backbone for its sublime synth melodies and blistering finale.

If anything, Sound Kapital contains the most straightforward rock songs that Boeckner has ever sung. You'll hear traces of Bruce Springsteen in the empowering "Serve the People," which criticizes "privileged thieves" who “don't serve the people." Likewise, "What About Us" is laden with hints at social upheaval and corrupt politicians.

The explosive combination of civic unrest and rock 'n' roll comes together on the standout "Cheap Music." It's a punkish stomper that name checks Bucharest, Belgrade and Bangkok, and this ragged travelogue gives voice to "a thousand lonely kids making noise in the basement." Boeckner and Perry clearly speak from experience -- they've toured extensively in far-off locales, and even filmed an eight-episode web series for CNN called Indie Asia: On Tour with Handsome Furs.

With its glorious blend of electro rock and power-to-the-people lyricism, Sound Kapital will make you wonder why you ever mourned the loss of Wolf Parade. In fact, it's so good that I almost forget to mention the naked lady on the front cover.  [Tyee]

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