released Feb 2nd, 2010

from the album - Holding Hands

YouTube - We Are Wolves || Holding Hands music video

from all music
Canadian electro/shout-punk trio We Are Wolves builds walls of high-energy, synth-based, call-and-response indie rock that bring to mind artists such as Clinic, Suicide, and early New Order. The Montreal three-piece, comprised of Alex Ortiz (bass, guitar, vocals), Vincent Levesque (keyboards, beatbox, vocals), and Antonin Marquis (drums and vocals), released their electrifying debut, Non-Stop Je Te Plie en Deux, on Rykodisc's Fat Possum imprint in September 2005. In August 2007, Dare to Care released a 7" of "Fight and Kiss" and "Coconut 155" and followed it up with a full-length that September, titled Total Magique.

album review from tiny mix tapes

I can forgive a lot in the name of a good pop song. I can ignore that this band is a dance rock holdover in a post-Rapture indieverse. I can fail to take the obvious snark bait presented by Montreal indie rockers with a form of "wolf" in their name. For a few really great hooks, I could even refrain from making a joke about We Are Wolves saving the money they might otherwise spend on a fourth album and investing in a time machine to carry them back to 2001 (where, like some protected species of wolf, they could be released into their natural habitat). However, I feel less than charitable when presented with a record that sounds like Joy Division and The Stooges (circa Raw Power) teamed up to soundtrack a beer commercial.

Unfortunately, that's more or less Invisible Violence in a nutshell. It's a record of uniformly thumping, insistent drums and compressed guitar tarted up with some moderately compelling synthwork, one that shoots for both visceral and moody but largely fails to hit either mark. This isn't to say that the Québécois trio has turned out a wholly unenjoyable album, just one with some real problems. Despite a few shameless Joy Division lifts (the worst offender being "Walking Commotion," which jacks the distinctive beat of "She's Lost Control" and sets it to some unabashedly Sumner-esque guitar work), the band manages to keep things interesting musically — at least to a point: solid disco detours like "Golden Hands" and "Blue" help to keep the album from getting mired in a post-punk rut, while almost every song harbors at least one shining moment in which We Are Wolves demonstrate a laudable ability to graft electronic bells and whistles onto their total rawk explosion. In particular, passages like the skeletal electro breakdown halfway through lead track "Paloma" give the album much needed hills and valleys, serving to keep the listener engaged.

However, that's not quite enough to make up for lead vocalist Alex Ortiz. Fans of independent music don't expect Pavarotti, but having a limited vocal range (of, like, six notes) coupled with a mostly unvaried playground-chant-style rhythmic delivery gets old pretty damn quick. It doesn't help that Ortiz insists on yelping out every other line with the urgency of The Rapture's Nick Jenner (sounding like he has perhaps only a slightly less angry lobster dangling from his testicles). Then there are the lyrics. According to the opening lines of "Dreams," Ortiz is "sitting in silence staring at the sea" but is simultaneously "in the middle of a troubled wave" and he "fears the tide will rise today." Fortunately, he clears up what seems to be an incomprehensible spacial relationship between him and a body of water by concluding "The world is a specter/ A specter of light, and I'm waiting here/ In the void." So the wave in which he sits is not a wave at all, but rather part of a void that maybe looks like a sea and somehow has tides. Only slightly less awful, "Holding Hands" sees Ortiz updating Hoobastank for the indie set with the line "I have no reasons, my reasons are you." Throughout Invisible Violence, Ortiz traffics in the kind of sea-and-eye-centric imagery and bloated abstractions that might cause an adult listener to strain whatever muscle is associated with rolling ones eyes.

We Are Wolves are certainly proficient at what they do (even if what they do doesn't seem particularly interesting), and there are a few memorable moments and decent hooks that keep this record from being a failure per se. In fact, Invisible Violence could even make pretty good aural wallpaper at the right kind of party (e.g., kegs and hijinks). I just don't think it'll survive on my iPod long enough to make it to my next kegger.

Track Listing

01. Paloma
02. Holding Hands
03. Walking Commotion
04. Dreams
05. Vague
06. Reaching For The Sky
07. Me As Ennemy
08. Blue
09. Near Fear
10. La Rue Oblique
11. The Spectacle Of Night
12. Bounty Waterfalls