Several side projects by members of the band put their second album under greater anticipation and loftier expectations. The four-piece also added a fifth as Dante DeCaro jumped from Hot Hot Heat onto what’s become closer to an indie super-group. On At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade trims up and buffs down their rough, metallic sound and shows a more sophisticated side that benefits from their experience.
While maintaining their icy bravado, the group delivers a smooth set of rambling rock that paints a stark picture. Their debut album, Apologies to Queen Mary, introduced their nearly signature brothers-in-arms, gritty pop with hyper a pace, while At Mount Zoomer reduces the temperature further, giving a jazz-rock-from-an-ice-cave feel.
The opening track, "Soldier’s Grin", kicks off the trademark lo-fi party with a cavernous garage-pop ballad. With a reverbed sound that’s as if no one’s within 100 feet of them, Wolf Parade distances itself from the crowd in several ways. "Call It a Ritual" is a hypnotic roller that and "California Dreamer" is explosive, electric rock stomp, and both command a presence in a don’t-get-too-close teeth knash. "Language City", "Fine Young Cannibals", and the closer, "Kissing the Beehive" gives a cold shoulder to the tapping energy of before and focus with a more deliberate, sharper edge.
Overall, At Mount Zoomer is a deliberate, glacial effort that well represents the experience of its members. With a powerful collective wisdom, Wolf Parade are able to produce an uncommon mix of lively and difficult rock. The multi-headed monster led by Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug grind out a rock-solid effort that’s filled with excitingly treacherous grooves.