May 22nd 2007
In order to tie up some loose ends I thought I’d look back to 2007 when married couple Dan Boeckner, of Wolf Parade, and writer Alexei Perry released Plague Park under the moniker Handsome Furs. The band, named for a short story penned by Alexi, toured Europe before Plague Park was even complete. Granted, the Montreal duo had plenty of help in the label and marketing department from their association with Wolf Parade, benefiting from their status as a major buzz band of ’06 and ’07. The signs warning of Handsome Furs potential flaws were certainly imposing. Another successfully crafted record by a husband/wife team only a couple years after Apologies to Queen Mary? Let me guess, guitar riffs backed by synthesized drum sequences. Lay your doubts to rest, for someone who was never quite interested in the Wolf Parade bandwagon, this record will impress. I have had the disc for a while now, but it has only come to my attention as of late that Plague Park should have someone championing it for what it is, a great fucking record.
Those elements beyond guitar and beat machine that elevate Handsome Furs above their initial humdrum grow in your bones the more you listen. What you want to distrust becomes clever and interesting. The sequences become ingenious and you feel cheated because you’ll never get to be the one who thought of it. Isn’t that one of the best compliments you can give; distain because some band claims another inch of creativity from a nearly exhausted cerebral fabric? Boeckner’s voice is intensely woeful, and the lyrics are beautiful. They shuttle from dirge to digital, expending high amounts of energy but quick to slow and return to contemplation. There is never the sinfulness of Eagle Seagull or the synthetic dexterity of Xiu Xiu, but Handsome Furs deals a heavy blow to snobbish ears. Plague Park is an urban memory of rural roots; it is an exhalation of intimate song-craft; it is a great fucking record.