TBD (Sub Pop)
Back in 2005, Wolf Parade waltzed onto the scene with their gorgeously frenetic Apologies to the Queen Mary, introducing the world to their grizzled dramatics and ushering in several lupine-monikered outfits, all paling in comparison. After touring extensively behind their debut, the Canadian quartet splintered into side projects -- singer-guitarist Dan Boeckner with Handsome Furs, full of newlywed nihilism, and singer-keyboardist Spencer Krug with his indie super-group esoterica. Whether it was those other creative embers or simply the break, the band's sophomore album is a technically tighter, sonically more expansive endeavor. The blooming, almost mathematical synth of album opener "Soldier's Grin" implies a warmer, brighter Parade, but the band still howls. Despite their warning of "no singles," the slinking, sexy "Fine Young Cannibals" qualifies, with Boeckner's ragged yelp yearning over a love affair lost. Their finest hour, however, is the 11-minute Ren Fair-meets-Slayer finale of "Kissing the Beehive." Wolf Parade has returned as a tauter, fitter beast.