The Upshot: A return to roots for Krug and Boeckner, of fulsome tremulous emotions expressed through ball-crunching riffery and trilling keyboard blasts, of sensitivity blared through arena-sized rock gestures and bravado.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
It’s been seven years since the last Wolf Parade album, the urgent and unabashedly rock Expo 86, and members of the band have been off in their separate journeys, Spencer Krug with the plaintive anthemics of Moonface, Dan Boeckner with the alienated post-punk romanticism of Handsome Furs, the oddball synth pop of Divine Fits. Cry, Cry, Cry feels like a return to roots, of fulsome tremulous emotions expressed through ball-crunching riffery and trilling keyboard blasts, of sensitivity blared through arena-sized rock gestures and bravado. Krug and Boeckner alternate lyrical duties, but both perceive the sorry state of a fallen world through vivid, nearly lurid metaphors, suitable for shouting from rooftops while punching stale air. This album is maybe the most uplifting downer of 2017, which is saying something.
Cry, Cry, Cry starts from the micro and expands outward, beginning in the smallest kind of tragedy. One person’s death makes up the core of “Lazarus Online” in a fluting, urgent, emotion-charged swan dive into this album’s aesthetic. Wounded but defiant, ripped up but melodically unstoppable or as Krug puts it, aptly enough. “Like getting punched in the heart/were the exact words on describing the music you heard.”
Boeckner brings a bit of his new wave, synth-blasting, dance mode into “You’re Dreaming,” but its tootling hedonism seems a trifle next to “Incantation,” where piano chords cavort around architecturally stark percussion. The music cake-walking frippery, brave ornamentation, amid the wreckage, and it echoes ideas about trying to maintain love and truth and joy in an oppressive world.
As always Krug’s songs are a bit more fluid and romantic, Boeckner’s sterner and full of punishing rhythms, but they meet in fertile middle that balances mourning and celebration. Krug’s “Who Are Ya,” the catchiest of these tunes, the most overtly upbeat, limns the immediacy and joy of making music (“with your hand on the neck of your father’s guitar”) but tempers it with recognition that this joy is always passing even when it’s going on. Boeckner’s last song, “Artificial Life,” is the album’s bleakest, lyrically, musing on income inequality and gentrification, climate change and political divides, and yet it bubbles and burbles with palpable giddiness. The easiest way to say it is that there’s no barrier between despair and euphoria in these songs — which contain both, equally, simultaneously and without contradiction.
DOWNLOAD: “Lazarus Online,” “Incantation,” “Who Are Ya”
Ed. Note: Get the vinyl (below), duh.