[3 February 2010]
Alright, seriously. When did the wolf become the symbol of cool for the hipsters and indie scenesters alike? When did wearing a musty, oversized sweatshirt bearing a howling wolf that you wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing as a child get pushed to the front of your wardrobe rotation? And when the hell did “Get at me wolf!” become something you shouted at your buddies when you’re all liquored up on Saturday nights?
Truly puzzling stuff. I think about bands with raw appeal, like Wolfmother and bands with indie cred and synth-laden hooks to boot, like Wolf Parade. Are they to blame? If so, then can they be blamed for their three-headed furious dance-rock child, We Are Wolves? It just seems like no coincedence that We Are Wolves, and their latest full-length, the intense and unrelenting 12 tracks that is Invisible Violence combines the best of the aforementioned bands. Classic, stadium ready riffs coupled with electronically-heavy breakdowns? It’s a great formula, and We Are Wolves come close to pulling off an indie heavyweight record. The thing is, much like this renaissance of wolves as a popular symbol, we’re never too sure exactly where We Are Wolves came from and what they’re after.
As mentioned, Invisible Violence is a pretty intense listen. Though ragged at times, Invisible Violence presents a fairly cohesive experience. The record does walks a fine line, as the constant fusion of sounds can be a little overbearing. Many listeners might applaud We Are Wolves for sticking to their roots—the band was born out of the musical hot pot that is Montreal—and belting out more than a few choice lines in French. However, some may view it as a distraction, and if that’s the case, then there’s entirely too many opportunities to get distracted on Invisible Violence.
The deciding point may very well be the third song, “Walking Commotion”, which breaks down midway into a Pink Floyd-influenced bridge, before quickly crashing into a chorus out of the Clash’s playbook. It’s the first chance on the record that listeners get a chance to breathe… and that’s not a good thing. Records like Invisible Violence serve a very valuable purpose, but it’s not one many can get behind. Simply put, Invisible Violence is a record that can’t really be thought about too much. Tunes like the choppy, punk-leaning “Me As Enemy” bat you over the head with their urgency and their chunky, punch-a-long riffs. After the track, you feel exhausted, and you’re not entirely sure why.
Sure, We Are Wolves possesses some power. “Blue” manages to subdue lead singer Alexander Ortiz’s gnarly howl into a pitch-perfect ‘80s jam. It’s a sweaty concoction that will no doubt drag listeners onto the dancefloor with its palpable groove. Hey, there’s more than enough of that to go around.
Still, that last statement was meant to be literal. There are more than enough bands like We Are Wolves to go around. Each and every time We Are Wolves break a track down with thick synth or harsh riffs, its impossible not to tap your toes. In doing so, they break down their sonic viability. As Invisible Violence breaks down each and every track, another electro-rock bands stands waiting in the wings. Yes, We Are Wolves do their thing quite well, but like the last track you hear on the dancefloor, their legacy is fleeting.
Invisible Violence is a cool listen, but the next one will be just as cool. And so will the next one. And so will the… you get the picture. It’s time to head to the zoo and spot the next trend.