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Face Control

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Album Review

Similar to their 2007 debut, Plague Park, the Handsome Furs' sophomore effort is super moody and a little on the brainy side. Named after a practice common to upscale Russian nightclubs in which people are admitted based on physical attractiveness, Face Control places itself in a stark, scrubby, post-Soviet Russian landscape. And for anyone interested in that level of listening, Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry's haunting Russian storylines will hold some interest. That said, the braininess of this album isn't the main attraction. At its core, Face Control showcases the Handsome Furs' wonderful way with song. The album feels weirdly familiar, full of gritty hooks that conjure up Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty — you could call it computerized roots rock. "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues," for all its rumbling, computerized bells and whistles, is built on a downright prehistoric rock riff, the one behind songs like "Summertime Blues." Getting back to basics like this is a radical move, and there are times when Face Control has problems getting out from under the shadow of Springsteen. But most of the time this newfangled approach to howling, heartfelt rock & roll feels really, really good. Rollicking, fire-slicked tracks like "Evangeline," "All We Want Baby," and "Radio Kalingrad," with their gorgeously dark underpinnings, make it clear that Face Control makes good on all the promise Plague Park had to offer. For an album set in Russia and made by an artsy indie rock duo from Montreal, Face Control feels shockingly down-home American — the kind of music that would normally find its home in crumbling Rust Belt towns. Barring all that, it's just a solid album, and just another example of Boeckner and Perry's tingling creative chemistry.


Formed: 2005 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Montreal-based duo Handsome Furs formed in 2005 around the talents of Vancouver transplants Dan Boeckner (frontman of Wolf Parade) and Alexei Perry. The husband-and-wife team released the atmospheric Plague Park in 2007, utilizing drum machines and world-weary melodies to distinguish the band's debut from Wolf Parade's own output. Plague Park earned accolades for its electronic twist on indie rock, with Rolling Stone likening the band to "a dingy version of the Cure rocking some hipster dive...
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Face Control, Handsome Furs
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