Album #20: Wolf Parade – Thin Mind

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Montreal, Canada
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Best Track: Against the Day

The third (and probably final) one of Friday’s releases I’m covering is by Canadian indie-rockers Wolf Parade. I haven’t been overly keen on previous work by this band, but I liked the two singles from it, ‘Against the Day’ and ‘Forest Green’. They had a bit more of an ’80s new wave feel than I’ve heard from the band in the past, so I thought I’d give this one a blast.

Their fifth album, Thin Mind is certainly a well-worked affair, tackling tough themes like toxic masculinity (on ‘Julia Take Your Man Home’) and content overload (not unlike their fellow countrymen Arcade Fire on their last album Everything Now).

There’s a lot I like about it, but the big problem I have with Wolf Parade is singer Spencer Krug. Put simply, I just can’t be doing with his voice! It’s way too warbly and overdone for my liking. He reminds me of Brandon Flowers (in fact, ‘Julia Take Your Man Home’ could be a Killers song lyrically and musically), and on potentially decent tracks like ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Town Square’, it gets grating to the point where I find them hard to listen to.

I’m starting to think I don’t actually like good singers! Like with Nuclear Dreams, I can appreciate that Krug is a talented vocalist, but I don’t really want to hear it. I like singers with a distinctive voice like Jack Steadman (Bombay Bicycle Club) and Tim Darcy (Ought), and ones that sing in their own accent like Jarvis Cocker. I don’t particularly want to hear an amazing vocal range or an ability to hold a note, and I’d say I don’t mind a singer being bang average if the music’s good (as I’d say is the case with Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy).

Which is a shame, because I’d enjoy this album a lot more if I could get over it. ‘Against the Day’ is a belter. What a hook that is – plus it’s noisy enough to soften the annoyance value of the vocals!

From what I’ve seen elsewhere online, Thin Mind has been very positively received so far, and I can understand why. I think it’s just a classic case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. It isn’t really to my tastes, but I expect I’m in the minority and most indie lovers will lap this up.

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