When Wolf Parade announced an “indefinite hiatus” in 2011 after a short northwest tour (QRO photos), it was easy to think that it would become permanent. The band is centered on songwriters Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug, who alternate songwriting duties, and a band with two or more songwriters usually ends up breaking up (everyone from The Beatles to Hüsker Dü). They even had their own projects during Wolf Parade, like Handsome Furs (Boeckner) and Sunset Rubdown (Krug), to other projects after, such as Operators (Boeckner) and Moonface (Krug). Plus it has seemed like most great alternative acts from the first decade of this century/millennium either break up, or worse, deliver diminishing returns.
Yet Wolf Parade returned in 2016, with a new album the following year, Cry Cry Cry, and we’re all the better for it.
One reason is that Wolf Parade’s sound hasn’t been done to death, by themselves or others, making its return feel fresh. The antsy ramble of the band is still a unique sound, and not ‘unique’ in being ‘there’s a reason no one does this.’ Admittedly not an easy style to make accessible, the songs on Cry are not so anxious or meandering as to be off-putting, but rather have a purpose behind them.
Also, while Boeckner and Krug have their own distinct voices, they’re not completely different. Both have that indie-anxiety, and both vary enough within it to share the ground. While fans of the band will be able to tell whose songs are whose (and inevitably prefer one over the other), it’s not immediately obvious (unlike, for instance, Boeckner’s divided side-project with Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Divine Fits).
There are a million reasons why it’s hard to be an indie band, particularly financial, but one of the artistic is that it’s too easy to just repeat oneself and stick around too long. Thankfully, Wolf Parade knew when to march off, and know when to march back on.