Wolf Parade: At Mount Zoomer

Wolf Parade's 2005 debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, got great reviews, but it now seems unduly influenced by its producer, Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock. Fortunately, follow-up At Mount Zoomer — which the band produced themselves — more fully embraces the group's strengths and eccentricities. Though channeling '70s-style progressive rock, it never sounds experimental or masturbatory because every song is anchored by a memorable, driving hook. Even the album's 11-minute closer, "Kissing the Beehive," manages to stay on track thanks to the ringing, dissonant synth riff which fills in for a chorus. Though principal songwriters Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner's side projects are musically quite distinct, on At Mount Zoomer their styles seem to fuse completely. It's fair to say the group has suddenly snatched the indie-rock championship belt from associates Arcade Fire, at whose Quebec church the album was recorded. But unlike Neon Bible, At Mount Zoomer manages an element of spontaneity. The heartbreaking moments come when you least expect them to, such as on "California Dreamer," told from the perspective of the Mamas & the Papas' left-behind "California Dreamin'" lover. Somehow, Wolf Parade have channeled the '60s and '70s to make a timeless album.

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