I'm happy to say that the Handsome Furs third album, Sound Kapital, is a frenetic masterpiece. Building on their previous two releases (2007’s Plague Park and 2009’s Face Control) the Furs’ continue to evolve their sound; the pulsing drum machines and fat squiggly synths are still here, but louder in the mix and seem to have more of an urgency, while the atmosphere is decidedly less weary.
Boeckner’s pleading vocals are familiar and set against music that has an upbeat, head bobbing quality their first two discs did not showcase. Perhaps it’s because this is their first album to be composed entirely on keyboards, and though it forced them to find new avenues of expression, it also facilitated writing on the road, which is where they spend a lot of time. Lots of upbeat numbers here, with the track “What About Us” possessing an incredible dancey feel to it. In fact, it’s already been given the remix treatment from fellow Canadian, Diamond Rings (you can find the remix on their website).
Two standouts for me are “Damage” and the muscular “Cheap Music.” Both of these tracks have a simple economy that works well, even though the music seems to be more layered and complex at the same time. It’s the optimistic and over stimulated tendency of these songs that set it apart from their previous work. Dense, industrial chunks of noisy attitude and 80s Eastern Bloc mentality inform this new album while giving a hearty thumbs up to artists that defy authority.
According to the Sub Pop website, Sound Kapital was recorded quickly, polished and rehearsed in the Furs’ derelict Montreal studio, then preserved for posterity by long time producers Howard Bilerman and Arien Thompson, mixed in Finland and Berlin, then mastered back in Montreal. Fans of their first two albums should notice the lack of slower tempos and cleaner production. It has put the music front and center and the band sounds that much better because of it.
As much as I love Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs always seemed a bit impenetrable. But with the new album, Sound Kapital, I feel like I can wrap my head around the project from a new perspective. Now, the fun part… going back to listen to their first two with these new ears.
-- Chuck P, KCRW Music Host
Sound Kapital will be available to stream on demand from June 21 through July 20, 2011. The album will be released on Tuesday, June 28, 2011.
Artist website: http://handsomefurs.com/posts/dispatch/
1. When I Get Back
3. Bury Me Standing
4. Memories of the Future
5. Serve the People
6. What About Us
8. Cheap Music
9. No Feelings