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Rhythm & Views

Handsome Furs

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Wolf Parade was no fluke. For all their ancillary hype, the band's songs were catchy and affecting, and can largely be credited to the group's two songwriters: Spencer Krug, who has earned his stripes with Frog Eyes, Swan Lake and Sunset Rubdown, and Dan Boeckner, who now has Handsome Furs--his duo with fiancée Alexei Perry.

Full of guitar squiggles, Perry's electronic tweaks and Boeckner's emotive pipes, this album is a small triumph. Small in construct, that is, with nine songs, 36 minutes and minimalist instrumentation; the sound is fully developed.

"Hearts of Iron" is a tweaked country-Western song with spacey guitar crescendos and a swath of digital noise. "Snakes on the Ladder" hosts militant drums, reverb-soaked vocals and unobtrusive but essential bleats and blips. Still, these early triumphs can't touch the album's remarkably strong second half.

"Sing! Captain," is the crowning achievement, opening with a wash of digital noise that segues into a plaintive, folksy tune before twisting into a bouncy pop ditty, which, finally, explodes into a cathartic coda. "Dead + Rural" is a jubilant re-imagining/rephrasing of Liars' wistful "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack." "Dumb Animals" is a sleek, noirish blues number, while "The Radio's Hot Sun" is a reflective acoustic (with electronic accoutrement) closer.

Ultimately, the major triumph of Plague Park is the anticipation it incites for the next time all the talented forces of Wolf Parade coalesce. Of course, like any good appetizer, Handsome Furs can properly substitute for the main course.

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