Welcome to Check Your Mode

The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Handsom Furs - Sound Kapital: B- / Iceage - New Brigade: B

"No Feelings"                                                                             "Broken Bone"

Oh, post punk. What are we going to do with you? You were so prescient and refreshing in the late 70’s and 80’s, but now most of the proprietors of your pale, white, monosyllabic British guitar rock have remained boring and stagnant. There’s something poetic about how two post punk groups can come from widely different places – England and Denmark –and still sound inert and unmoving.

Iceage are those said Danes. Their debut album, New Brigade, is a collection of two to three-minute bursts of jagged guitar and muffled vocals. As unprofessional as that may sound, the group actually has an admirable talent for maneuvering through fairly complicated twists and turns within their constrained song lengths. Still, their sound is nothing new and New Brigade becomes one of those albums that reminds you of the fun you had while listening to the work of other bands that did what has been done here much better. Iceage’s musicianship is promising, but their lack of distinctiveness leaves much to be desired.

Where New Brigade made you want to listen to a better post punk album, New Kapital just makes you want to listen to something else. Where Iceage take their post punk sound into more raw territory, Handsome Furs incorporate electronics, ostensibly to give their sound more depth. Unfortunately this new addition seems to be an excuse for the husband/wife duo of former Wolf Parade singer Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry to slack in the realm of hooks and song structure. The music on the album lurches through the tropes of trite balladry and Boeckner frequently opts for mundane lyrical platitudes like “What about us” and “You don’t serve the people”. As a result, Sound Kapital leaves hardly an impact when it ends. Its quality is worse than Cut Copy’s dull Zonoscope and just south of The Killers’ Day & Age (A position in which nobody wants to be). Like a lot of recent mediocre releases, Sound Kapital attempts to redeem itself on its final track, “No Feelings”, with a burst of synth fuzz and guitar distortion. However, repeated listens show that the track is hardly jarring; its eruption feels shocking in the context of the album’s epic banality. Perhaps I was desperately looking for something interesting to say about Sound Kapital by that point. I guess it turns out I disliked the album more than I thought.


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