In Review: Handsome Furs – Face Control

face_control-the_handsome_furs_480Let’s face it, husband-wife duo’s are cute. From The Weepies to Mates of State I am a sucker for that kind of marital music making. How can it get any better? Well, what if the husband from said duo happens to be the member of one of your favorite Canadian indie rock outfits like – oh I don’t know – Wolf Parade

Handsome Furs are an electro/experimental dance explosion headed by Wolf Parade’s own Dan Boeckner and his short story writing wife Alexei Perry. Signed to Seattle’s own Sub Pop they drop their sophomore LP Face Control on March 10. The albums title is inspired by a phenomenon the two encountered in the club scene in Europe. Although patrons may lay down Euros to get reservations in hot clubs, bouncers can still turn them down based on their appearance, called “face control”. Pretty intense for overpriced mojitos and a bit of trance music.

The album itself is eleven tracks of fun. Although produced by WP drummer Arlen Thompson at Mount Zoomer this isn’t just another Wolf Parade album. The Handsome Furs sound is different with a strong emphasis on synth driven noise and Dan’s heavily effected electric slurring along in the background. For me this kind of sound can get wearing after a few songs, but the Furs have learned the trick of keeping my interest: vary the feel of your tracks and intersperse instrumentals. Here’s what I mean:

“Legal Tender” opens the album with a bang. Hand claps and distorted beeps hold the beat behind Dan’s repetitive and emotionally wrought vocals. From an upbeat dance track it switches to the dark bass n’ beat heavy “Evangeline”. With a track that eerily evokes Bruce Springsteen “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” is the album’s standout with a damn catchy hooks and rock n’ roll guitar licks. “(Passport Kontrol)” brings back the electronic beat before you can forget it with the first of the albums two instrumental tracks.

“All We Want, Baby, Is Everything” runs in the same vein as “Talking…”, with another Boss-like feel and 80’s inspired guitar riffs. “I’m Confused”  will make you tap your toe along with the cowbell and sing along with Dan’s blues lyrics. “(White City)” is a light instrumental track that leads into “Nyet Spasiba”, a spacey synth backtrack and straight to the heart drum track. “Officer of Hearts” is a slower electronic track that doesn’t quite live up to the hype of the previous songs while “Thy Will Be Done” is a strong track with dark lyrics and light synths. Closing out the album is “Radio Kalingrad” which opens as a jumble of noises and ends as one of the best songs on the album.

It might not change your life, but Face Control is a catchy record with a unique sound and a few killer tracks. Pick it up at your local record store, check out the free mp3’s on the sub pop page, and sample the mp3 below.

[Handsome Furs – Talking Hotel Arbat Blues]

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