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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Wolf Parade
Apologies to the Queen Mary
Sub Pop

Rating: 9/10 ?


September 27, 2005
When listening to Wolf Parade, the phrase "on its head" continually comes to mind: they turn indie pop on its head - in fact they, very impressively, spin the sorts of indie pop that was already on its head to an even more acute degree. They turn what we already know about them on its head, giving already published songs new placement and prominence, and with such arrangement, new meaning and effectiveness. Everything looks better from their carefully chosen angles; with such a daring, thorough perspective, they turn what could very well be a predictably great album on its head to be even greater than we could have ever hoped.

Beginning with the afore-adored "You Are a Runner and I am My Father's Son," Apologies to the Queen Mary starts off smartly. One gets the feeling of beginning at a middle ground - at the center of a work already in progress. The track functions as an opening segway from dramatic action curiously unseen and begins the album in shambles: already liquored, desperate and willing to make a pact with the devil. The level of intrigue is already high as it moves to the silver-toned angst of "Modern World", with all of its apt, crippling metropolitan phobias of disassociation, and its surprisingly spooky, enduring breezes.

Our first glimpse at true optimism, then, despite any hidden warmth, is the third track, "Grounds for Divorce", whose ironic title is concerning in the face of such a chipper, Lonesome Crowded West style singalong. And when Wolf Parade grabs a hold of hope, it is proven right to never let go. The track's fruit-colored guitars, bouncing movements and irrepressible vocal expressions are bizarrely contented considering its context and its insistence an impossible lover "looks like a newlywed." When the muted, metallic tones previously championed by Wolf Parade turn invigoratingly bright, as they do on "Grounds for Divorce," it turns even turning itself on its head, blasting through every level of irony to focus on something real and human. These are the plentiful moments, stronger than steel and steeliness, where Wolf Parade shows how undying hope is. It is a theme they are all too qualified to carry, as they themselves are bastions of such imperishable goodness.

As "We Built Another World" uses a truly unpredictable pace to twist dance-punk inside out, and "Fancy Claps" propels wailing choirs and oddly shaped punk into a tumbling keyboard oblivion, we certainly start to get it: Wolf Parade can play up any too-familiar style, paranoia or sentiment with ease and success, but they aren't about to play anything straight or without light; it is exactly what makes them so unquestionably thrilling to listen to, time and again.

"Same Ghost Every Night" is a careful reprieve, unifying the heart of Modest Mouse's "Sleepwalking" with the sound of Kurt Cobain's unbridled yelp and the dusty boots of Hank Williams, and eventually collapsing each hallmark into churning layers of broken calliope noise. "Shine a Light," a favorite of their original EP, finds odd placement and determination after the fact, grinding away to become a climactic example of resilience amidst confusion. "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" is its dear match, using childlike instrumentation to liberate once-lost virtue and unearth newfound strength. While each drop of Apologies to the Queen Mary insists it is a strange album of unparalleled creative (and re-creative) vision, it is every bit as much an insistently positive album, cursing the existential distance of its mind to fully embrace the innocence of its heart.

"It's a Curse" is a brief interlude of sheer silliness, the likes of which only edifies Wolf Parade's charm and quirky humor; it is a hellish dance party, populated by zombies and vampires with fantastically stilted moves. Its performers are cobbled with the parts of monsters, brought to life with jerky, spunky chants and unexpected cheer. Though it is not as plainly innocent as "Dear Sons and Daughters," it is likely the disc's most childlike moment, channeling the dirt-in-nails boisterousness of the average ten-year-old comic book lover for an instant of sheer, ghoulish fun.

Constantly winning and resurging, not a moment of Apologies to the Queen Mary is lost to the chaos. Even when a pounding, heady drum beat thickens to break resolve on "I'll Believe in Anything", it ends in discover of a beautiful, awe-inspiring paradise after being miserably washed ashore. Likewise, the squalling, dishwater-drowned epic, "Dinner Bells" moves to uneasy squeaks, sink drips and dirt, but is redeemed by its follower, the charging, victorious closer, "This Hearts on Fire". For every momentarily down, distanced moment, there is redemption that flies so high it discounts all cynicism. The momentum of Apologies to the Queen Mary is puzzlingly satisfying, getting its second and third winds when least expected and most needed; it has an awkward, energized feel, a host of pristinely blessed contexts to surround its mystery, and as many moments to leave you breathless as it does to leave you braced for the cold. No moment is overdone, and none are easily expressible, but every slight tilt is unerringly, uniquely honest. Skewed enough to be interesting and familiar enough to be good, Apologies to the Queen Mary is a diamond in the rough - though the rough is duly eclipsed by the shine of the diamond. Despite its filthy surroundings, it is plainly glorious for all to see.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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