Handsome Furs were the duo of Dan Boeckner and then wife and poet Alexei Perry. Formed in Montreal in 2006, it was meant as a side-project for the ever musically active and tireless rocker in Boeckner and for a short time, became his main creative outlet when Wolf Parade went on hiatus in 2011.
Boeckner and Perry released three full-length albums in a six year span under the Handsome Furs name before the duo split musically and otherwise. I remember being super disappointed because they had been slated to the 2012 rendition of Ottawa’s Bluesfest and I noticed one day, on one of the many instances of checking the lineup for new additions, that their name was subtracted without an explanation. It’s a shame, really, that I never got to see them. All three of their albums are quite excellent. This little regret is only slightly tempered given that I’ve since seen another of Boeckner’s projects, Operators, as well as Wolf Parade perform at Bluesfest.
“Sound kapital” is Handsome Fur’s third and final album and Boeckner’s first ever written completely on keyboards, rather than guitars. The album was inspired by Eastern European industrial and electronic music from the 1980s but if you think that will mean an album of austere and frigid numbers, think again. This is Dan Boeckner, the embodiment of Canadian indie rock. There’s plenty of guitars and his raw, Bruce Springsteen-like vocals breathes life into the genre.
“Dogs in the capital howling at dawn
Someone’s driving by with the radio on
Someone making noise from the center of town
You kick em in the head and you kick em when they’re down
and you don’t serve the people”
“Serve the people” starts off with the lines above in a croon, sounding like it’s coming from a different age through broken speakers, and then, it changes with the introduction of synthesizers and an electronic beat. There’s steam and factory sounds and weird washes and wah-wahs and plenty of other noise muddying the stomp of dance floor rhythm. And somehow it all turns into a fist pumping anthem with Boeckner leading the charge, a guerrilla revolutionary with dishevelled hair and a cigarillo dangling from his lips. Yeah, serve the people, Dan.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.