Unmetal Monday // 1/27/2020

There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. As is tradition, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:

Wolf Parade Thin Mind

I’ve never really known what to make of Wolf Parade’s post-Apologies to the Queen Mary material. That album was a seminal one when I look back on the growth and expansion of my taste in music, and to this day holds up remarkably well. But there isn’t another album in their now decade-and-a-half long career that has captivated me anywhere close to as thoroughly. At Mount Zoomer had its moment in the sun on my regular rotation back in the day, but it’s staying power was decidedly minimal in comparison to its predecessor. Expo 86 and Cry Cry Cry got at most two listens from me, and neither were anywhere as interesting as Spencer Krug’s work with his own project Sunset Rubdown, so I had honestly chalked up Wolf Parade as an Interpol-esque one-hit wonder and relegated their first record to my indie rock greatest hits playlist. Then Thin Mind comes along and makes me reevaluate that stance. 

I’ve already given Thin Mind more spins than the band’s previous two releases combined. While that’s not exactly saying a whole lot given my previously stated “meh” on those records, it’s an encouraging and unexpected sign that not only have Wolf Parade created an accessible, revisit-worthy record, but one that may just stand the test of time in a manner not unlike its very obvious principal form of inspiration, Apologies to the Queen Mary. More than any album in the band’s catalog, Thin Mind heralds back to the band’s genesis, utilizing sounds and sonic textures that feel reminiscent of their musical heyday without falling into tacky contrivance or rote copying. Opener “Under Glass” is emblematic of this update on the band’s sound, unleashing an upbeat guitar-based blast encased in warm, robust production that pops delightfully in the ears. “Julia Take Your Man Home” takes the nostalgia to the next level, positively dripping with the band’s signature synths and edgy melodic vibe that vacillates between fun and oddly sinister as only Wolf Parade at their peak can achieve. It’s as welcome a return to what the band do best as a fan could want. 

The remainder of the album is essentially variations on these themes, and that’s in no way an insult. The album’s first two tracks set up a rich, interesting, and diverse sonic palette that the band adheres to with obvious skill and devotion throughout. It’s a sound drenched in familiarity that somehow only works to the band’s advantage here, showing them reinvigorated and refreshed around their central strengths, which is just about all this forlorn Wolf Parade fan could ask for. I’ll definitely be revisiting the band’s last few releases to see what I may have missed. Funny how one solid album can spark renewed interest in the less engaging (at least from my perspective) music that came before it. But whether those releases capture me like Thin Mind has is irrelevant. It’s their best release since their debut, and I feel comfortable stating that the Wolf Parade I fell in love with in 2005 is back, baby. Feels good. 

Jonathan Adams

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