By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Few bands do a better job of capturing the eerie surrealism of 21st-century life than Handsome Furs. The act creates music that comes from an outside observer's standpoint, where each song is something of a foreign correspondent's small commentary or status report on the nature of things on the ground. Songs address the effects of socio-political issues and the personal loneliness that persists, even though we're all constantly connected and under surveillance.
These post-modern observations comprise the themes of Handsome Furs' new album, Face Control, a record that boasts minimalist drum-machine pulses, droning synth robotics, and gritty guitar yelps and squalls—the perfect sonic landscape for this type of relevant commentary.
But while many artists might take a staunch political stance in their music, Handsome Furs doesn't really strive to push a specific agenda. Instead, on songs like "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues," singer/guitarist (and Wolf Parade member) Dan Boeckner laments, "I don't know but I've been told, every little thing has been bought and sold" over a foundation of blues-based fury. The song draws from the same 20th-century pop-music constructs that we've all come to accept and incorporate into our modern, consumer-driven reality.
"We're just trying to comment on the experiences that we're having very personally," says the band's drum machinist/keyboardist Alexei Perry. "I don't have any political agenda myself. I don't really ascribe to any ideology in my life or in my work at all. But I do think that there is [something] lacking in a lot of the music that's being created right now. Especially within popular indie-rock music. [Musicians aren't] talking about the world we're living in. I definitely want to do that."