Fewer wolves in Wolf Parade
Canadian indie rockers Wolf Parade released their fifth album, “Thin Mind,” last week.
It’s the band’s second full-length release since taking a 5-year hiatus, and the new collection of synth-driven power pop finds Arlen Thompson (drums), Spencer Krug (vocals/keys) and Dan Boeckner (vocals/guitar) at their most polished.
“Thin Mind” also marks the first time Wolf Parade has made an album without multi-instrumentalist (and former Hot Hot Heat guitarist/songwriter) Dante DeCaro in more than a decade.
DeCaro’s amicable departure in 2019 came after 14 years of service and transformed the Polaris Music Prize-nominated group back into its original three-piece configuration.
And while Thompson, Krug and Boeckner have found plenty of ways to be invigorated by their return as a trio, it’s also forced them to adjust and reorganize things on stage as well as in the studio.
“It was a pretty big reset,” Thompson said from his home in Nanaimo, British Columbia. “Dante could play whatever was needed. So when Spencer and Dan were writing parts, they could do what they wanted. Now, as a three-piece, we’re going back to how we were originally. And that Wolf Parade sound has a synth/keyboard-bass and drums for the rhythm section.”
The band did five or six “reboot” shows while writing “Thin Mind” to help them get re-acclimated and to work out new arrangements for many of the songs.
In the studio, however, something else happened.
Producer John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Wu-Tang Clan, Blonde Redhead) was back on board after taking the helm on 2017’s “Cry Cry Cry,” but this time around, things were drastically different.
“Even though we worked with John again on this record,” said Thompson, “it was nothing like making ‘Cry.’ We were so much more involved in the process of being in the studio. Traditionally, the band has always tried to get into a room and capture the sound live off the floor. But on ‘Thin Mind’ we really embraced production - more than we ever have on any other record.”
They also did something else they haven’t done in a while – thoroughly game plan.
Wolf Parade tends to be the kind of band that doesn’t talk much about its goals when making a record. But they did for ‘Thin Mind,’ crafting its new sonic structures over a comprehensive “tech dependency” narrative that is ultimately rooted in hope for a sustainable future.
“What it comes down to,” Thompson said, “is that we’re all stuck in this. And you really can’t escape it if you want to be in the modern world. It’s madness.”
But perhaps even more important, the band was able to unite in an overarching theme, helping the trio coalesce at a time when they needed it the most.
Just don’t expect the longtime friends and band mates to stick with the current blueprint just because it happened to work out this time. Thompson knows that Wolf Parade’s true M.O. is not having one.
“All of our records tend to be reactions to the other records,” he said. “So we could easily go from the heavy production of this one to stripping it down and going even simpler on the next one. We tend to work in a condensed way where we drop in and see what happens.”
Whatever the future holds, Wolf Parade is headed for symmetry in its pre- and post-hiatus chapters as a band. Its next release will make it three albums on each side of the divide and neatly split its legacy into perfect halves.
There is talk of possibly releasing the additional material from the ‘Thin Mind’ sessions as it’s own entity, but nothing is set in stone. Either way, the band is excited to continue in the same way it started nearly 17 years ago.
“We’re definitely going to stick with it as a three-piece,” said Thompson. “There’s just something with this configuration. It’s the original core of the band and I think the way we play together is really unique. It seems to work pretty well.”
Wolf Parade: 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $32; bellyup.com
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