Album Review — Sound Kapital, Handsome Furs
Handsome Furs write songs about the Eastern Bloc that swerve aggressively across the violent border between fist-pump rock anthems and minor-key distress signals. The lyrics read almost like propaganda, rooted as they are in the cheerleading of nostalgic, confused teenagers who stumble along a similar fault line—the eerie divide between state communism and modern capitalism.
Ambitious yet controlled, Sound Kapital is synth-pop written by a musician more comfortable with a guitar. Which is not to say that these songs are any worse for it; the perpetual momentum is a direct result of Boeckner’s willingness to let these fuzzy synth lines build to rollicking, throat searing choruses, a maneuver he’s deftly executed with guitars since Wolf Parade’s first album Apologies To The Queen Mary.
Like the similarly terrific Past Life Martyred Saints, Dan Boeckner traffics his message through slogans, his gravelly voice panting with desperation and admiration at the same time. Sound Kapital is an album where politicians don’t serve the people and travelers aren’t repatriated when they get back. It’s an album that gives voice to a thousand concerns of the third-world, not necessarily to look for solutions, but to simply be heard.
In 2004, the surging choruses of ATTQM separated Wolf Parade from the rest of the indie-rock pack; Sound Kapital separates Boeckner from the rest of his discography, the new synthesizer heavy instrumentation forging a unique place for itself despite never losing track of the dynamic, heart-on-the-sleeve songwriting that Boeckner bleeds regardless of his instrumentation.
Sound Kapital is familiar and yet distinct, something like the revolutions spreading across the Middle East, or the Murdoch news scandal, or any other of the sensational news stories of 2011 that are reactions to the same building blocs used over all human history—poverty, injustice, oppression. Boeckner has a slogan for his album and its unfamiliar synth-pop, for the Egyptian protestors and all the others who fight the same battles across the world, decade after decade independently of those who came before them: “I feel alone, but it feels alright.”