Canadian indie rock band Wolf Parade became critics' darlings and enjoyed an unexpected degree of commercial success in the 2000s and 2010s for their rich, dynamic music constructed from a wealth of influences.
Their songs were unfailingly catchy, built from pop hooks that suggested they'd spent a lot of time listening to synth-based new wave sounds of the '80s. But they added a sense of drama and instrumental grandeur that was a throwback to prog rock (especially in Spencer Krug's Bowie-styled vocals), as well as a dash of wit and a lyrical stance that lent the songs a warmth and humanity despite the sleek surfaces of their recordings. Wolf Parade impressed both critics and fans with their first two albums, 2005's Apologies to the Queen Mary and 2008's At Mount Zoomer, and after a five-year hiatus, they returned to duty as strong as they were before on 2017's Cry Cry Cry.
Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Wolf Parade formed in 2003 when songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Spencer Krug, then a member of Frog Eyes, was contacted about the possibility of playing a show opening for the Arcade Fire. Krug immediately said yes, then realized he needed to find musicians to join him on-stage. With the show only a week away, Krug got in contact with Dan Boeckner, whose résumé included working with Atlas Strategic. Krug and Boeckner started writing songs, using a drum machine to keep time, and they chose to add drummer Arlen Thompson so late in the rehearsal schedule that they hadn't all played together until the soundcheck for the gig. The show went well, and the new band decided to keep making music together. By the end of the year, Wolf Parade had self-released a four-song CD-R EP, and a six-song CD EP followed in 2004. By the time the second EP arrived, Wolf Parade had expanded to a quartet with the addition of keyboard player Hadji Bakara. They struck up a friendship with Isaac Brock of the band Modest Mouse, who was moonlighting as an A&R man for the well-established indie label Sub Pop Records. Brock was a fan of Atlas Strategic and enjoyed Boeckner's new band just as much; he arranged for Wolf Parade to sign with Sub Pop, and he produced their first release for the label, a self-titled four-song EP.
The first full-length album from Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary, came out in September 2005; also produced by Brock, the album garnered rave reviews, won a nomination for the Polaris Music Prize, and was a commercial success, rising to 158 on the nationwide Top 200 Albums chart. The group added another new member, Dante DeCaro, a former member of Hot Hot Heat who played rhythm guitar and percussion, helping to fill out the elaborate arrangements of the album on-stage. In 2008, Kenji Fusé of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra created a symphonic arrangement of Wolf Parade's "I'll Believe in Anything" that he debuted that year. Also in 2008, the group's second album, At Mount Zoomer, was put out by Sub Pop, and it was another favorite with critics, cracking the Top 50 of the album charts. By the end of the year, Hadji Bakara had dropped out of the band to return to academia. In late 2009, Wolf Parade began work on their third album. During its recording, the group members realized they had not only all attended the 1986 World's Fair in Vancouver, but had been there in the same week. This coincidence provided the title for the album, Expo 86, released in June 2010. The group set out on tour, and once their touring cycle was over in mid-2011, they made a public announcement that they were taking an indefinite hiatus. Krug began making new music under the banner Moonface, and Boeckner worked with Handsome Furs and Divine Fits.
In 2016, Wolf Parade reunited and began writing and recording fresh material. The band headed out for a reunion tour, and when they returned, they completed work on their fourth studio album, Cry Cry Cry, which was issued by Sub Pop in October 2017. Dante DeCaro left the band in 2018 after the completion of a world tour; they recorded their next album as a trio. The finished product, Thin Mind, was produced by John Goodmanson and arrived in January 2020. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi