We Are Wolves’ last album, 2007’s Total Magique, was an exciting whirlwind of electro-tinged punk rock, even if it relied a bit heavily on gimmicky synth warbles. The Montreal trio’s latest however, Invisible Violence, finds the band advancing their sound in terms of texture and arrangement, while also borrowing from classic rock guitar sounds. Mechanically throbbing, minimal drum beats and synth bass remain intact over the course of the album’s twelve tracks, but the band’s shrill guitar sounds scream out courtesy of simple and hard-rocking power chords and lead riffs, at times recalling The Kinks (“Paloma”) or The Ramones (“Holding Hands”).
We Are Wolves, at heart, are a relatively uncomplicated band, latching onto a riff, repeating it, utilizing the power of repetition that is at the core of so much good pop and punk. This is recognition of the band’s ability, though, not disparagement. And on Invisible Violence, the Wolves push this formula further. The melancholy “Dreams” begins ballad-like, before re-launching into a bittersweet, fast-paced love song of sorts about a dream of “you and me in a house.” Alexander Ortiz’s vocals are flat but layered and appealing, although he seems to be doing his best Ozzy imitation on “Vague.” One of the record’s best tracks and centerpiece, “Reaching For the Sky,” is built upon an undulating new-wave synth pattern that skirts the line between punk and techno. At about the three-and-a-half minute mark, after a proggy synth solo, most of the instruments drop out leaving the pattern on repeat before the band jumps back into the fray.
We Are Wolves vibrantly fuse together the best elements of old-school punk and new-school electro. They are one of the few survivors of this nearly decade-old trend to continue to successfully do so and make it sound fresh and interesting. Even if you think you’ve heard it before, you haven’t heard it quite like this.