If there’s a bright side to the great Montreal band Wolf Parade being on “indefinite hiatus”—often a precursor to “permanently finished’—it’s that the group members aren’t wanting for other worthwhile musical projects. Spencer Krug arguably surpassed Wolf Parade with his brilliant 2009 album with Sunset Rubdown, Dragonslayer, and now Dan Boeckner has buffed Handsome Furs to a mainstage gloss with Sound Kapital. Pushing aside the cheap-sounding drum machines and gritty guitars of 2009’s Face Control, Boeckner has crafted an even slicker follow-up to Wolf Parade’s criminally underrated would-be swan-song Expo 86, settling into the anthemic rock groove that remains his comfort zone.
While “What About Us?” and the uplifting opener “When I Get Back Home” verge on full-blown synth-pop, Sound Kapital consists mainly of catchy, mid-tempo rock songs where majestic guitar solos and atmospheric keyboard swishes swoop in from mid-’80s U2 and Tears For Fears records. Compulsively listenable, Sound Kapital goes down a little too easily; a pinch of the sandpaper sonics of past Handsome Furs releases (or the disheveled energy of Wolf Parade’s best) might’ve helped make the album more memorable. As it is, Sound Kapital rarely falters, but it’s also a little safe. Even if Handsome Furs is presently Boeckner’s main musical outlet, he’d be better off treating it like an oddball side project.