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RECORD RACK

Fascinating trip ends on right note

October 23, 2005|Richard Cromelin

Wolf Parade

"Apologies to the Queen Mary"

(Sub Pop)

* * * 1/2

IS there something in the water of Montreal that puts ants in the creative pants of rock bands and a David Byrne chip in singers' voices? A year after the emergence of the Arcade Fire, another Montreal band is stirring things up with a similarly agitated sound and spirit.

There's also a lot of Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock in the vocals of Dan Boeckner, whose startled yelps suggest a man with demons nipping at his heels. "Bad things happen in the night," he sings early in the album, and "Same Ghost Every Night" is far from the only song to feature a spectral visitor.

The music reinforces Wolf Parade's edge-of-desperation outlook by refusing to offer the comfort of conventional pop music's reassuring repetition. Even if some choruses recur during a song, the music behind them is never the same as the last time around.

The guitar doesn't even arrive in the opening song until two minutes have passed. Throughout the album, the keyboard squeals and distorted guitars constantly cluster, dissolve and then reconfigure in new ways, engaging you with a harsh beauty while keeping you bracingly off-balance. When it all ends on a note of hope and redemption, you feel as if the band -- and the listener -- have truly earned it.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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