For their third album, “Sound Kapital,” Montreal husband and wife duo Handsome Furs borrowed a page from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Zero” playbook, setting guitars aside and writing the entire record on keyboards. The result is what is so far the best release of 2011 (seriously, the main synthesizer riff alone on standout track “Repatriated” is better than anything on Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”).
Label: Sub Pop
Though Handsome Furs is considered Dan Boeckner’s side project when he’s not fronting Wolf Parade, “Sound Kapital” might reverse those credentials. The strongest material from either act to date, the record establishes his collaboration with wife Alexei Perry as, first and foremost, an electronic outfit. It’s a cohesive collection that simultaneously conveys a sense of isolation and a feeling of dance-hall community.
The ideas of home and heartbreak, often intertwined, factor prominently on nearly every song. The first line Boeckner utters on opening track “When I Get Back” is “When I get back home … I won’t be the same no more.” Later, on the space age-y “Memories of the Future,” he adds, “Nostalgia never meant much to me … I let my memories go.” The aforementioned “Repatriated” churns along towards an eruption of guitars, percussion and keyboard effects, with Boeckner spitting out, “I’ve seen the future / I will never be repatriated.” These observations are even more impactful given that the backing vocals and half of the instrumentation come courtesy of his life partner.
“Cheap Music” and “Damage” are punishing, three-minute assaults, while “No Feelings” sounds like it could be a leftover Wolf Parade number. Cuts like first single “What About Us” and “Memories of the Future” have Boeckner putting his considerable song structuring skills to use, seamlessly transitioning a track from an exuberant dance number to a more subdued lament. “I feel alone, but I feel all right,” he sings in the final moments of “Memories.” That sentiment, in a nutshell, encapsulates the entire record.