March 4th, 2009
Handsome Furs have loaded their new record, Face Control, into their myspace player. It comes out March 10th via Sub Pop. I know I get really giddy about certain shit, especially if it involves Dan Boeckner, but I’m already thinking this might end up being one of my favorite records of the year. I’M NOT JOKING PEOPLE (caps mine). I’ll grant you that the album cover is absolutely hideous, but paper don’t make music, Mikey.
The band’s 2007 release, Plague Park, was good, but it was inconsistent. Some songs dragged you through Boeckner’s achey fire, and some just dragged. It was plodding and hesitant at times. His wife, Alexei Perry, offered a sampling of what an electro version of her husband’s emotive, deep-seeded music would sound like. “What We Had” is a mysteriously uplifting church bell ballad, dark at first, sublime at second. It, along with a handful of other tunes and the band’s excellent live performances, showed promise.
Now we have Face Control, and if we are to believe the band’s recent synopsis, it is Eastern Europe to Plague Park‘s Scandinavia. Where PP was quiet and contemplative, FC is fierce and full of swagger. Boeckner is a child of the 80′s and his music often shows it. Ever since I heard Wolf Parade’s “Fine Young Cannibals”, he now regularly sounds like Ric Ocasek to me. Here, quicker drum beats race through like hearts aflutter, glitchy synths evoke happier spirits, faux-handclaps guide the ears, all colliding with Boeckner’s often-bitter guitar seizures. Highlights would be the dance-floor ready “Evangeline”, its bump and echoey bass recalling Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”, first single “I’m Confused” with his glam-guitar screaming and careening out of control, and “Radio Kaliningrad”, which fans of the first record will surely appreciate. You know, it has that goose-bumpy, New Order-ish melancholy to it.
And, FYI, Sub Pop is offering a limited edition CD-R of four live songs recorded at Neumos in April of 2008 with any pre-order. You also get buttons, stickers, and an album stream to use. I was at that show, I’m fuckin’ DOIN’ it!