Band of the Day

2011.09.13

Handsome Furs

Punk rock energy clothed in booming club beats and dancy synthesizers
Heaven was a place we built out of stone, just like a fever dream crushin blow. And though it pains me to treat you unkind, the goal is greater or love is blind.
lyrics from All We Want Baby Is Everything

Handsome Furs are an electro-pop band from Montreal, Canada consisting of wife-and-husband duo Alexei Perry (keyboards, vocals) and Dan Boeckner (guitar, vocals). The group formed in 2005 and was named after a short story written by Perry. Their sound typically incorporates synthesized drum beats, angular guitar riffs, spacey keyboards and disenchanted vocals. The Handsome Furs have released three LPs, all on Sub Pop records. The first LP, Plague Park, was released in 2007. Face Control was released in 2009 and their most recent LP Sound Kapital was released in 2011 (it was also their first LP written entirely on keyboards).

What happens when a hard rocking guitarist tosses aside his axe and makes an album with nothing but synths and drum machines? If your name is Dan Boeckner, you make dance music that bristles with energy, just at home in a sweaty punk basement or dance club. Montreal, Canada's Handsome Furs originally began as a side project for Wolf Parade guitarist/songwriter Dan Boeckner, but blossomed into an all-cylinders go indie-dance force armed with three albums. Handsome Furs relies primarily on drum machines and dancy synthesizers, but rock n' roll is deep in Boeckner's bones. These songs retain the energy and ferocity of rock even as they command zealous booty-shaking. The band's 2011 album Sound Kapital erupts with fun and energy from the first moment, barely pausing for breath. Boeckner always sounds emphatic and kind of distraught, like he just sprinted five miles to tell you something really important. “Serve the People” is Sound Kapitals' lighter raising anthem, sounding like Bruce Springsteen with synthesizers as Boeckner shouts, “you don't serve the people!” over a bed of dirty, electronic distortion. Album highlight “Bury Me Standing” rocks with a steady fervor, balancing catchy rising and falling synth lines with a tense, threatening-to-explode feel, a lot like an Arcade Fire song. When the chorus hits, it sounds like synth-punk bursting with energy and passion. “Memories of the Future” tones things down a bit. Built on a stuttering, almost hip hop beat, Handsome Furs bring together icy futuristic synths with Boeckner's enthusiastic croon. It sounds more like 80s electro than the future, but you'll forgive them when the hooks are this good.