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Album Review
Sound Kapital

Sound Kapital
by Handsome Furs

Sub Pop

Review Date
3rd August, 2011
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

The husband and wife two-piece alter their geographical outlook and write their most accomplished album in Sound Kapital.

“I just don’t think indie blogs are ready for vagina’s.” That’s Dan Boeckner, one half of Canadian indie electronic band Handsome Furs response when queued to discuss the cover of latest album Sound Kapital. The image is of a very naked woman; very because of the angle of the shot, the austerity of the location – standing beneath a network of motorways – and the powerful nature of her pose. Apparently the image references the inspiration for the album, a trip to South East Asia, during which time time the pair became overwhelmed by both the unrelenting noise of the place and the politically and socially unstable circumstances in which some of the people there create art. Their previous release – Face Control – was geographically influenced too, by the austere surroundings of an Eastern European winter, which suits the aesthetic of Handsome Furs perfectly: minimalist, roomy, aggressive. However – and perhaps it has something to do with Boeckner’s day job, Wolf Parade, going on indefinite hiatus - the band have managed to take their ongoing electronic deal, shedding it of the indie-rock purgatory Wolf Parade had graced it with, thus successfully appropriating the “dayglow” mentality of Thailand or China in their most challenging album to date.

Sound Kapital opens with ‘When I Get Back’ and the telling lyric “When I get home / I won’t be the same no more”, before immediately sliding into a glitchy and overwhelming series of synthesizer parts, suggestive of the streets down which such a lyrical sentiment was borne. The dedication to their inspiration is rife throughout; found sounds open second track ‘Damage’, ‘Bury Me Standing’ begins with a startling BPM and Boeckner’s vocals drown in ‘Memories of the Future’. We get it, Asia is a noisy and unrelenting place. But there’s a secondary appropriation of the place here, gained no doubt from their experiences working and touring with a band - Side Effect - in political hot spot Burma and appreciating the dedication people can have for their craft under such trying circumstances. Single ‘What About Us’ possesses the same basic instrumentation as tracks like ‘Legal Tender’ from Face Control, but by truly imbuing the track with the emotionally wrought sentiment the song came from this minimalism delivers as an honest portrayal of socio-political circumstances; simply another thread of intensity the couple have delivered in an alternate way. And ultimately that’s the crux of Handsome Furs too, which has never been more apparent than on this album: an emotional rawness that ties the musicality, theme and lyrical sentiment together and draws their listener into a melody which usually explodes into an unrelentingly euphoric – whether heart wrenching or uplifting – chorus. More apparent now than ever arguably because rather than living in a double band universe Boeckner is entirely focused on the musical sensibilities of this project.

With Sound Kapital, Handsome Furs have created an album that has the dual ability to make one think and dance, an achievement reached by the fact that they have married the pieces of their South East Asian puzzle to the restraints of their band so successfully; a band they now wholly understand.


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