After its hiatus in 2011 that lasted five years and despite having been reduced to a trio last year, the Canadian band Wolf Parade was still able to soldier on and work on a new album, which came out last month.
Formed in 2003, in Montreal Quebec, Canada, Wolf Parade consists of Spencer Krug (vocals, keyboards. synthesizers), Dan Boeckner (vocals, guitar), and Arlen Thompson (drums). To date, the band has five full-length albums under its name—2005’s Apologies to Queen Mary to the newly unleashed Thin Mind.
Released on Friday, January 24th, 2020, via Sub Pop Records, Thin Mind is a 10-track record that carries the distinctive sound of Canadian Indie Rock music—in league with groups like Arcade Fire (“Creature Comfort”), The Dears (“1998”), Handsome Furs (“Memories of the Future”), Hot Hot Heat (“Kid who Stays in the Picture”), and The New Pornographers (“Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile”).
Consisting of 10 tracks, and produced by John Goodmanson, Thin Mind opens with the catchy “Under Glass.” A great start, it immediately makes the listener crave for more; it will fit well onto a playlist that includes songs like Philip Philips’s “Home,” Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies),” and Kings of Leon (“Radioactive”). This is then followed by a slightly slower, highway-driving track called “Julia, Take Your Man Home,” continuing the album’s overall Guitar Pop-oriented theme. Still with the same guitar-earworm sensibility, “Forest Green” exudes faint echoes of some mid-’80s countryside Post-Punk songs such as Translator’s “Gravity,” Del Amitri’s “Heard through a Wall,” R.E.M.’s “Harborcoat,” and The Plimsouls “A Million Miles Away.”
Wolf Parade then turns melodramatic with the subdued rhythm of “Out of Control,” but which builds up into a driven chorus filled with swirling and jangly guitars. The mood then becomes dark and ominous with “The Static Age”—nostalgic, angular, and rustic. “As Kind as You Can” further relaxes the atmosphere with its acoustic feel and Alternative Rock balladry.
“Fall into the Future” is a standout, courtesy of its syncopated, jazzy rhythm and minimalist approach. Following next is another stomper—“Wandering Son,” reminding the initiated of the likes of Soul Asylum (“Just like Anyone”), The Rave-Ups (“Better World”), and The Alarm (“Rescue Me”). Reverting farther back to its synthesizer predisposition, Wolf Parade then launches into the Alternative/Synthpop “Against the Day,” seemingly paying homage to some of the pioneers of Synthpop such as Gary Numan (“Cars”), Alphaville (“Big in Japan”), Heaven 17 (“Temptation”), and Tubeway Army (“Are Friends Electric?”)–the melodies, the buzz, and the bleeps resonate it all. Finally, Krug, Boeckner, and Thompson close their rather expansive and textured Thin Mind properly with a frenetic rocker, “Town Square.”
Thin Mind helps prove that Wolf Parade still has the growl and the chops. It has enough melodies and appeal to back this up and to sustain the band at least for the rest of the new decade. Cryptic Rock gives Thin Mind 4 out of 5 stars.