Eastern Bloc Party
Handsome Furs have been on a musical journey Eastwards: a veritable travelogue heading through the Eastern Bloc over cold-war synths and cold-hearted drum-machines. Their debut LP, 2007's Plague Park, was born in Finland and Estonia. 2009's Face Control rolled through Poland into Russia. And now Sound Kapital comes along: inspired by Eastern European synth music, their friends in China, and touring through South-East Asia.
Handsome Furs —Wolf Parade dude Dan Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry— have gone beyond seasoned travelers or serial touring-act, to the point where all this journeying has become their metier. "Cheap Music" stands as the defining track on this LP —the national anthem of the Sound Kapital— but it could just as easily be the duo's modus operandi.
"Cheap Music," one of Boeckner's most anthemic jams is dedicated to "a thousand lonely kids making noise in a basement," be they in Bucharest, Belgrade, Bangkok, or Beijing. It's a rallying cry for the disenfranchised kids of the East; and Sound Kapital is essentially authored in honor of them.
"Damage" boils down "Cheap Music"'s sloganeering to even simpler sentiments, this another tribute to escape via basement shows "fit to blow," just one that has a one-word hook repeated endlessly. The "Damage" is to Western alienation, to local systems of oppression, and, if you stand to close to the speakers, to your eardrums.
People Power in the Disco Hour
It seems like a conscious turn towards the light after the imprisoning darkness of Face Control, which used its literal journey to portray a voyage towards the dark heart of Putin's Russia. In some ways, Sound Kapital feels more simple, with less wrinkles.
But, at its best, the set's people-power anthems double as takedowns of the state; works both first-pumping and fist-shaking at once. "Bury Me Standing" is an ode to going down fighting (and drinking) in a "city of terror" stacked with "socialist tower blocks."
And "Serve the People" is even better: dropping the otherwise-exuberant LP pace to half-time, the song slowly builds in an evocation of dissenting groundswell, its insanely-epic four minutes progressing from a lament for Chinese state control and police crackdowns, to a defiant stand against them, and, finally, to a proclamation of imminent change. It's musical freedom-fighting of most unalloyed kind: big and bold and heartfelt.
Record Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: June 28, 2011