Quite a lot has happened in the world since Canadian rockers Wolf Parade last released a record.
In the time since 2010’s Expo 86, the quartet fronted by Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner has lent their talents to a number of other bands, from Krug’s solo project Moonface to Boeckner’s role as a principal member of Operators and Divine Fits. Still, despite a seven-year hiatus, both have now returned to the group that first announced itself with a flurry of guitars and yelps on 2005’s Apologies To The Queen Mary.
The result is Cry Cry Cry, a new album of tightly-crafted tracks that contrast ebullient melodies with lyrical longing and dread. Speaking by phone, Boeckner acknowledges that trimming the fat was a key concern when he reunited with Krug, drummer Arlen Thompson, and multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro last December.“I think those exact words got thrown around in the rehearsal space,” he says. “We don’t ever sit down and ask what the aesthetic vibe of a record is going to be, but we definitely talk about the mechanics of songwriting in reaction to whatever we did before.”
In the case of Cry Cry Cry, that meant looking back at Expo 86, an album Boeckner describes as “a real exercise in riffage.” While Wolf Parade’s latest does feature two lengthy jams at the center of its eleven tracks, the overall product is largely refined, a record that harkens back to the band’s debut release.
“In retrospect, this is the record that would’ve been a more logical follow-up to Apologies,” Boeckner suggests. “But I think after Apologies came out, our subsequent two records were really just a reaction to public reaction. I think the band maybe had an existential crisis. I’m not saying At Mount Zoomer and Expo weren’t totally valid expressions of art, but I think that existential crisis informed the type of songs that we were writing.”
On their new album, Wolf Parade responded to something very different: the pervading sense of disquiet that gripped much of the world following the U.S. general election last November. When the band hit the studio in December 2016 to record Cry Cry Cry, those widespread feelings of anxiety and fear came with them.
You can hear it on a song like “Incantation,” a Boeckner-penned piano stomper that finds him offering a bleak counterpoint to the WWII British axiom to “keep calm and carry on.” In discussing with Krug how best to address politics on Cry Cry Cry, Boeckner says the two turned to the work of Leonard Cohen as a guiding principle.