Monday, February 2, 2009

First Impressions: Handsome Furs - Face Control

Disclaimer: I've already pre-ordered Face Control, so downloading the leak is not an act of me ripping off the band, it's just a testament to my impatience. If you haven't pre-ordered a copy for yourself, you can over at InSound (LP or Digital LP w/ T-shirt).

So after a few spins, I feel confident enough to report my first impressions of the album Face Control, the second LP from husband/wife duo Handsome Furs. The album technically has a release date slated for March 10, 2009 through Sub Pop Records, but a leak has surfaced on the internet (missing track 10).

Like its predecessor Plague Park, Face Control is stripped down rock in its purest form, though it relies heavily on the influences of 1980s electro-pop. Alexie Perry's improved skills on the drum machine are very apparent in this second attempt. She alone makes up the rythm section on every song, utilizing dark and menacing hooks and a vast array of percussion sounds. Her mastery as a musician shines through on this album, with more textures and composition than any of her previous work. Meanwhile, Dan Boeckner (also of Wolf Parade and Atlas Strategic) provides the pipes and jams for this record, creating eerie, fuzzed-out riffs reminiscent of the Eastern Russian block - suffice to say, his contribution is as solid as ever. And with a great follow-up to their amazing debut, Handsome Furs have affirmed themselves as truly and simply a great band, period. To label Handsome Furs as merely a "Boeckner side project" is not only a slap in the face to Perry's contributions, it also a gross generalization of this separate and entirely original entity.

Face Control immediately hits the ground running, opening with the a Euro-dance bopper "Legal Tender". The momentum is carried through on the album's second track, "Evangeline" - this song kicks so much ass. I'd heard it performed live twice, but the studio version really sounds great. To be honest, there really isn't a weak track on this album. The strongest tracks, in my opinion, would have to be the afformentioned "Evangeline", "Officer of Hearts", "Thy Will Be Done", and "Radio Kaliningrad".

All in all, this album is much more a rock album compared to Plague Park, and it's also more uplifting. I'm not necessarily saying that Plague Park was a downer, but after hearing songs like "Radio Kaliningrad" and "All We Want Baby, Is Everything", Face Control definitely leaves the listener with a positive feeling. The Furs are also experimenting with new sounds on this album - "Officer of Hearts" features the bongo drum, and "Radio Kaliningrad" showcases some synthesized bag pipes (which sound a lot like Church's "Under the Milky Way Tonight"). The end result is one great sophomore effort. Pick up a copy on March 10 when this album drops.

To hear a sample track from the upcoming album, head over to their MySpace page and listen to the first single "I'm Confused" (it's also attached to this post). If you're in the Midwest or Europe, check out their live show at a venue near you.

MP3: Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"
(buy Face Control)

Handsome Furs tour
Feb 9 2009 8:00P
Bang Bang Club Berlin
Feb 11 2009 8:00P
Super Festival @ Point Ephemere Paris
Feb 12 2009 8:00P
La Vapeur @ Generiq Festival Dijon
Feb 13 2009 8:00P
Le Cylindre @ Generiq Festival Besançon
Feb 14 2009 8:00P
La Poudrière @ Generiq Festival Belfort
Feb 17 2009 8:00P
Lio Bar Brescia
Feb 18 2009 8:00P
La Casa Milano
Feb 19 2009 8:00P
Locomotiv Bologna
Feb 20 2009 8:00P
Traffic Roma
Feb 21 2009 8:00P
Route du Rock Winter Edition St Malo
Mar 6 2009 8:00P
The Mercury Lounge New York
Mar 12 2009 8:00P
Mavericks Ottawa
Mar 13 2009 8:00P
Horseshoe Tavern Toronto
Mar 14 2009 8:00P
Blind Pig Ann Arbor, Michigan
Mar 15 2009 8:00P
Empty Bottle Chicago, Illinois
Mar 16 2009 8:00P
Off Broadway St. Louis, Missouri
Mar 17 2009 8:00P
Mojo’s Columbia, Missouri
Mar 19 2009 8:00P
SXSW Austin, Texas
Mar 20 2009 8:00P
SXSW Insound Party Austin, Texas
Mar 21 2009 8:00P
The Loft Dallas, Texas
Mar 23 2009 8:00P
Jackpot Lawrence, Kansas
Mar 25 2009 8:00P
The Aquarium Fargo, North Dakota
Mar 26 2009 8:00P
7th Street Entry Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mar 27 2009 8:00P
The Maintenance Shop Ames, Iowa
Mar 28 2009 8:00P
The Mill Iowa City, Iowa
Mar 30 2009 8:00P
Southgate House New Port, Kentucky
Mar 31 2009 8:00P
The Grog Shop Cleveland, Ohio
Apr 1 2009 8:00P
Bug Jar Rochester, New York
Apr 2 2009 8:00P
Spark Art Space Syracuse, New York
Apr 8 2009 8:00P
Cargo London
Apr 10 2009 8:00P
Motel Mocique Utrecht
Apr 11 2009 8:00P
La Maroquinerie Paris
Apr 12 2009 8:00P
Domino Festival Brussels
Apr 14 2009 8:00P
Gebaude 9 Cologne
Apr 15 2009 8:00P
Molotov Hamburg
Apr 16 2009 8:00P
Beatpol Dresden
Apr 16 2009 8:00P
Beatpol Dresden
Apr 17 2009 8:00P
Nachtleben Frankfurt
Apr 18 2009 8:00P
59:1 Munich