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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Wolf pack prowls a haunted landscape

A band from Montreal shows a sense of self- improvement in a display of its agitated sound.

January 05, 2006|Richard Cromelin | Times Staff Writer

"WE all feel like we could have done better tonight, so we're going to try one more time," Wolf Parade guitarist Dante Decaro said Tuesday, introducing the band's encore at El Rey Theatre.

Not many bands are up for playing the humility card, especially a new indie-rock band-with-a-buzz making its big Los Angeles concert debut in front of a packed house. But the Montreal-based Wolf Parade is unusual in many respects, and its candid self-review was an encouraging indication that its chaotic tendencies are kept in check by high standards.

Without those standards, the music could easily spiral into indulgent quirkiness. The shorthand summary for its sound is Modest Mouse meets Arcade Fire, and the band's recent album, "Apologies to the Queen Mary," is packed with agitated, restless and imaginative music of jarring intensity and harsh, haunted beauty.

On stage, the musicians gave it due respect, churning up a disorientingly off-kilter blend of keyboards, guitars, electronics and percussion. Keyboardist Spencer Krug is the one who sounds like Modest Mouse yelper Isaac Brock, while guitarist Dan Boeckner sang with a gruff, Cobain-like intensity. Both look like kids who might be practicing in their garage and sound like seasoned warriors in the struggle with inner demons.

Could Wolf Parade have done better? Maybe, by finding a little more looseness within its rigorous approach and upping the intensity to take it over the top.

Meanwhile, it's good to know that it still has something to prove.

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