Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Less-Than-Great Expectations, Immensely Pleasing Results

I had put off getting Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer, but I've now rectified the situation, and I'm glad I did. I loved both their debut EP and Apologies to the Queen Mary with an intensity reminiscent of the sort of devotion I lavished on bands like Superchunk in high school. It was innocent and riveting and it produced an almost physical swelling in my abdomen. Springsteenian songcraft, ELO chorusing and naive, anthemic bluster. This band, I thought, will soundtrack my early 30s. They produced something as torn between jubilant uplift and crushing sorrow as the Arcade Fire, but with a sound that appealed to my ears just a little bit more (which is not to denigrate the AF and their brilliant Talking Heads-meets-U2-and-Springsteen-on-the-Plateau-for-some-50s-and-some-deep-conversation sound). But their sophomore album came out, and for some reason, I sort of avoided it. In retrospect, I recognize that I was dreading a letdown of the sort common when you give your heart to a debut record. Let's don't spoil what we have, I felt. And I closed myself off to what Wolf Parade might offer me a second time around. It was shortsighted and wrong, but my instinct for self-preservation extends to golden memories, it seems. It didn't help that I wasn't particularly in love with Sunset Rubdown.

To make a long story only slightly less long, I finally bought At Mount Zoomer, and I'm both annoyed with myself for not getting it sooner, and pleased that it seems primed to provide the churning, soaring, diving, burbling and whooping soundtrack to my autumn (alongside the mellower charms of You + Me). It's proggy in ways that I not only forgive, but love. It's a bit more grown up, a bit less spastic than Apologies..., but then, I guess I am too.

Here's to Wolf Parade for confounding my expectations.

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