Handsome Furs, Face Control
Crisp, catchy, serious-minded songs bursting with terror
Dan Boeckner is perhaps best known as the frantic, electronic-leaning half of Montreal's Wolf Parade. But in 2009 Boeckner's Handsome Furs surpassed that one-time buzz band with the lean, relentless Face Control, his side project's second album. Inspired after a disorienting trip to Russia, Boeckner recreates the sound of a Cold War fire drill with a clanging and throbbing pile of electro punk. His songs — crisp, catchy, serious-minded — are bursting with terror, a virtual surfeit of paranoia and rage. It's an unusual mode for a band made up of two lovers to pursue, as Boeckner's partner in Handsome Furs is his wife, Alexei Perry, who handles keyboards and synths. But love amidst political horror is a time-tested trope, from Casablanca to le Carré, and Handsome Furs are a furiously committed couple. "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything," is the most lush and romantic thing on Face Control, recalling soaring '80s synth-pop crews like Simple Minds. But one song later, Boeckner is wailing "I'm Confused," over a flight of feedback and electric guitar. Boeckner and Perry have thrust themselves into the pain and uncertainty of modern love and at times seem to be reveling it. Whatever gets you off, right?