Handsome Furs' heavy hearts. - Oh My Rockness

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Handsome Furs' heavy hearts.

August 11, 2008
Montreal's Handsome Furs are a haunting duo consisting of Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade (the other singer who's not Spencer Krug of Swan Lake/Sunset Rubdown) and his fiance, Alexei Perry. The pair's completely entrancing debut (for Sub Pop) features nine captivating songs that are riddled with Boeckner's sad words like, "I'm so empty. I'm so hollow."

With lyrics like these, no one would mistake Handsome Furs for a new summer fun band. Sometimes they're sad. And they're certainly bittersweet. Often, I have the strong sense of nostalgia when listening to them, too. So in other words, they have all the good stuff I sometimes need to hear to balance out all that sugar-pop I secretly sing in the shower.

Handsome Furs create strong melodies from stripped-down sources. To create these songs that are generally heavy on the heart, they utilize only Perry's melancholic keys, Boeckner's lonely electric guitar, and a drum machine's detached percussion. The duo's shows are often void of much pomp and circumstance; they're an intimate, vulnerable display from two people intent on tackling life, for better or worse. This doesn't mean Boeckner won't flail about as he strums out like you've probably seen him do in Wolf Parade. He's a punk-rocker at heart, after all, and is entirely engaged (no pun intended) to this endeavor. But with Handsome Furs, he's just got a little less to hide behind.

The song "Handsome Furs Hate This City" sort of sums this band up. On the track, Boeckner mournfully sings about life being long and hard (literally), all set to slow and sparse instrumentation. In other words, all the dark and heavy stuff we just mentioned. Yet, near the song's finale, Perry's synths and beats kick in to elevate the tempo to a much more optimistic place, creating perhaps the sense that life may be long and hard, but it's somewhat hopeful, too. Not happy. But hopeful. Boeckner, of course, doesn't say this outright, because he doesn't need to. The music says it all.


Handsome Furs play the Empty Bottle, on Sunday, August 17th.


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