Wolf Parade invades the Wiltern on Saturday night
Cursed with the unenviable destiny of being forever compared with Canadian brethren and former collaborators Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade has blazed a distinct and singular path. But contrasts remain tantalizingly easy, with the blogosphere atwitter over the leak of Arcade Fire's monolithic "The Suburbs," due Tuesday on Merge, and Wolf Parade touting its own "Expo 86," released late last month.
Not that the Montreal-based quartet is somehow lacking for attention. After all, a headlining set at the Wiltern connotes a significant degree of success. However, since the release of its haunting and classic debut, 2005's "Apologies to the Queen Mary," Wolf Parade has been met with polite but reserved praise from critical quarters -- with a 76 Metacritic score on its last effort and The Times' own review applauding the band's energy and songcraft while lamenting a lack of lyrical content.
But while their words often veer toward the abstruse and abstract, both Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug generate intense emotion through clever phrasings and melodies that strike somewhere between intimacy and anthemic. "Palm Road" uses an impending apocalypse as the tableau for romantic dissolution. "Little Golden Age" paints an adolescent portrait of "dirty graduation gowns" and "worn-out cassettes," while avoiding familiar nostalgic traps. They aren't trying to go back in time, just merely trying to vividly render a fleeting moment. Unlike Arcade Fire, which gravitates toward massive, overarching concepts (see album titles "Neon Bible" and "The Suburbs"), Wolf Parade steers clear of the messianic in favor of minor and mundane miracles.
For all Wolf Parade's recorded merits, the group's true gifts shine brightest onstage. Deceptively skilled musicians and impressively coherent as a unit, they flash an explosiveness expected if you know the real reason their first album was called "Apologies to the Queen Mary" (they trashed a room on the famous Long Beach-based ocean liner).
There are a lot of worthwhile shows to attend on Saturday night: Kinky Friedman at McCabe's, Joanna Newsom at the Orpheum (with Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes opening), Sergio Mendes and Morcheeba at the Hollywood Bowl, and probably a dozen more I'm leaving out. But Wolf Parade might be at the head of the pack.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Wolf Parade. Credit: Sub Pop Records
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.