Track Review: Wolf Parade
“The National People’s Scare”
from “Wolf Parade” (Self-released 6-Song EP)
I dug up a copy of Wolf Parade’s 2004 self-titled, self-released EP at Lou’s Records, an excellent independent music shop in San Diego, and I couldn’t resist the purchase—I mean, Wolf Parade put out what was arguable the best album of 2005 and Spencer Krug seems almost inexhaustible in both creativity and quality; one day, this EP could definitely be worth something. At least, I like to think so. I kind of like the idea that the next generation will grow up listening to their dads’ old Wolf Parade records.
“The National People’s Scare” is one of the two tracks on the EP that weren’t on their following Sub Pop releases. Like the rest of the songs on the EP, the quality of the recording isn’t quite up to par, lacking in depth and energy when compared with their later albums. This stripped down, low-fi approach, however, actually benefits this song.
Dan Boeckner’s vocals are home to some dark introspection, frustration, and some strange, ambiguous references. The word “bear” is used nineteen times—I presume it’s used metaphorically for the catalyst of whatever national people’s scare the song’s title refers to—but without more of an understanding of what the bear refers to, it’s the other verses that hit the listener on a gut-level. “Daughter keeps me up at night / cars sound like a ruined choir / the sounds of God’s radio, why? / thousand people scare was a lie” he sings, establishing early his distaste for certain technology (which comes up later on the song “Modern World”, my personal favorite song off of “Apologies to the Queen Mary”) and a negative attitude toward God and religion that Krug would champion on songs like “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”.
The song in itself sort of plods along, slightly muddled by the recording quality and, when paired with the often desperate sounding lyrics, sounds like a man walking slowly toward his end. It’s much slower in tempo than your average Wolf Parade song, allowing for less yelping and more emoting, which Boeckner takes full advantage of. The track is more about feeling than actual listening in a lot of ways, an approach not superior to their later efforts but made more interesting in their light.
“The National People’s Scare” will not get as many plays as the tracks off “Apologies”—and it shouldn’t, because we all know how amazing those are—but for big fans of Boeckner and Krug, this track is an important look at the group’s formative period and the maturity they’ve developed since.
Wolf Parade - The National People’s Scare
- Dominick Duhamel -