REVIEW: Handsome Furs – “Sound Kapital”

Handsome Furs / Sound Kapital / Sub Pop

Analogies are always fun – especially when they provide useful comparisons for those showing up late to the Handsome Furs party – but there’s a fairly apt one that fits Sound Kapital, the Montreal duo’s third full-length. Known for its intensely energetic performances, in 2001 At The Drive-In dissolved into two factions: a prolific group know for an avant-garde sound and tracks with multiple movements (The Mars Volta) and a band that toured behind less radical hard alt-rock tunes anchored by raw vocal emotion and competent instrumentation (Sparta). If vocalist/keyboardist Spencer Krug represents the arthouse, Cedric-and-Omar side of the post-Wolf Parade equation, then Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner is definitely the Jim Ward. Not to say their groups even remotely share the same genres, but in looking at the different creative forces exploding outwards from Wolf Parade like a shrapnel of music notes, it’s obvious that, with a renewed focus and sole artistic control of these projects, aural auteurs Boeckner and Krug have taken markedly different approaches.

On Sound Kapital, Boeckner doles out roots rock verses spliced with hi-tech danceable choruses served over a bed of sizzling drum machines and synth. He and his wife Alexei Perry demonstrate an intuitive understanding of the technology at their disposal – as the adeptly synchronized buzzes and whirrs on “Serve The People” demonstrate – but they don’t hammer the listener over the head with these sounds so the main string of the song’s narrative, a slap to the face of oppressive political regimes, is not lost. It’s a pleasant surprise when, late in “Repatriated” and then for the following two closing tracks of Sound Kapital, Boeckner’s rough-edged guitar makes its presence known. The tracks named aren’t epic yarns, or in-depth deconstructions of fantastic dreams, but he plays to his strengths and writes to his voice – creating songs as deceptively simple as they are worth hearing again.

Download: “Cheap Music”, “No Feeling”

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