posted on August 16, 2008 19:00
A review of the album 'At Mount Zoomer' by Wolf Parade
Review Snapshot: Wolf Parade's follow-up to their glorious debut, ‘Apologies To The Queen Mary’, is a brave comeback by the Canadian indie five-piece, but it falls short of its predecessor by some distance. Unfortunately the high points of the record are undermined and outnumbered by the low ones, making for a bit of a mixed bag. First-time listeners to this band may find the album an exhilarating experience, but those who have been exposed to the quality that Wolf Parade can produce might just be a little disappointed.
The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10
In 2005, Wolf Parade released ‘Apologies To The Queen Mary’, their first album after two previous EPs, to a generally positive critical response. It was an album that used electronic music as an accompaniment to indie rock as opposed to attempting to merge the two. The songwriting duties were split between the two founding members, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner.
The result was an album of contrasting styles interwoven into classic indie. It sold quite well, brought about a substantial fan base and even earned a nomination for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, Canada's version of the Mercury.
Album number two was never going to be easy.
‘At Mount Zoomer’ begins in fine fashion with the blistering ‘Soldier's Grin’, which showcases Wolf Parade's characteristically jaunty guitar riffs and whimpering vocals to great effect. However, it then slouches into the disappointing ‘Call It A Ritual’, which is far too flat and disjointed when compared to Wolf Parade's previous body of work. The song drags, and not in any determined direction either.
The third track, ‘Language City’, is undoubtedly one of the highlights. It is anthemic and pulsating in equal measure and as good as anything these innovative Canadians have produced. Unfortunately there are just not enough quality tracks like this one to make the album memorable.
’California Dreamer’ is another track that will help fans of the band to keep the faith. It’s a suspiciously quiet song up to the point where it explodes into the chorus of “thought I might have heard ya on the radio/but the radio waves were like snow”. It is a sweeping track and reminiscent of ‘It’s A Curse’ off the band’s first album.
One of the worst features of ‘At Mount Zoomer’ is how poorly it flows. There are no good tracks together. Songs like ‘Call It A Ritual’ and ‘An Animal In Your Care’ act as little more then album filler. It’s not a particularly long album - only nine tracks - and yet there is an unacceptably high proportion of mediocre material on it.
At no stage does this second offering reach the chaotic majesty of its predecessor. There are no equivalents of ‘Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts’ or ‘I'll Believe In Anything’. But it is still a decent album. ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ was a diamond in the rough. ‘At Mount Zoomer’ is more like quartz in a quarry. It’s kind of nice, but not all that remarkable.