To borrow from Sir John Roderick, indie rock is a bloated corpse. And now that you're trading in your Vampire Weekend CD at Easy Street for a copy of No Age's Nouns, can you name the truly great bands that emerged from that whole scene? The Arcade Fire have yet to deliver more than one great record, your mom's been jamming to the Postal Service in her Nissan, and you're now thinking about what you really should have done with that $1 you spent on that Paste magazine subscription.
Wolf Parade have delivered the follow-up to Apologies to the Queen Mary. It's called At Mount Zoomer. It has no singles. One song is 11 minutes long. It has jams on it. It's weird. It's amazing. All this is my way of saying they might be one of the few truly great bands to have emerged from the indie scene.
As good as Apologies was, At Mount Zoomer is better. It does not have as many songs with the dramatic flare-up of Spencer Krug's "I'll Believe In Anything" or Dan Broeckner's "This Heart's on Fire". Instead, it's got songs that take leaps beyond that. Whereas Apologies displayed a blatant division between the songs Krug wrote and the ones Broeckner wrote, At Mount Zoomer shows evidence of a band working together and sounding like a band! And whereas Krug's songs (to me at least) were the standouts on Apologies, Broeckner's seem to be the most confident and fully fleshed out. Things begin with "Soldier's Grin", which has a sort of head-up/shoulders-back Springsteen-style chorus. There's also "Fine Young Cannibals", which ends with a completely hypnotizing Verlaine/Lloyd-ish guitar jam replete with curly little back-and-forth guitar noodles. Krug's numbers take on more of the carnival/military march thing seen on his Sunset Rubdown work, though he does get nicely Bowie-dramatic on "California Dreamer".
Last time around, Apologies biggest highlight for me was Krug's "I'll Believe In Anything". Like a lot of others, I even thought it was the best song of the year. But dammit if it ain't Broeckner who turns up with the album's finest, "Language City" a soaring, beaming, beautiful, forceful, rock epic.
They outdid themselves with this one, and in turn, outdid indie rock entirely. I think my old Believer editor Matthew Derby is spot-on in the prmotional notes when he calls it "this generation's Marquee Moon". I'd normally wave that stuff off as unnecessary hyperbole...but after listening to this album non-stop for the last five days, I think he might be right.
At Mount Zoomer will be released June 17.