Single Review: Wolf Parade – “Semi-Precious Stone” / “Agents of Love”

[Sub Pop; 2010]

When the “Semi-Precious” single first dropped a few weeks back, fans could be forgiven for thinking it might be the start of that unreleased material from Expo 86 coming into the public domain. However, I don’t think anyone really saw a statement announcing their hiatus coming (or especially wanted it). Even doubters of the band who lost interest after second album At Mount Zoomer failed to grow on them effectively have to admit that it’s sad that we likely won’t hear anything from a band which brought two of the most exciting minds in music together.

As sad as we (read: I) can be about this state of affairs or that the EP of extra tracks from the latest album likely won’t see the light of day anytime soon, we should at least be thankful we were given a parting gift in this single. I’ll not be blunt, the two songs here aren’t anything vastly different to the sound you might expect from Wolf Parade and this is good in a way because the last thing we wanted was a set of tracks that totally changed the game or astounded us so much we were left with tears of sadness coming from our eyes and anticipatory drool coming from our mouths.

Of the two “Semi-Precious Stone” fares better but that could just be my personal inclination for Krug’s tracks shining through. Driven by the underrated charging drums that were present all over Expo 86, Krug sings of stealing a valued jewel of some sort and fleeing the city. If that doesn’t sound all too enticing it’s because that it suffers from the same problem that has seemed to plague the lyrical content of his songs since At Mount Zoomer. It’s an unspecific tale but thankfully it still manages to have a few lines that beg interpretation like “This is the sound I choose to make now” which actually comes across a little mocking since we won’t get any sound from Krug for an unspecified amount of time (at least in the Wolf Parade name). “Agents of Love” is a kind of lacklustre affair to begin with but when it breaks down to a light chug of guitar and Krug’s fiddly synths, it sounds all the more enticing as it builds the track back up. The common ground both tracks share is that they are examples of how natural the infusion of instrumentation has become between the two but perhaps the ease at which they were pulling this off got tedious for them and who can blame them for wanting to take a break from it. It just makes you wonder what Krug means when he finishes “Semi-Precious Stone” with the line “You should save your energy for the new apocalypse.” Perhaps this end carves the path for a new beginning.