It’s common to see members of bands make new bands to pursue a different sound. This is what happened with Wolf Parade lead singer Dan Boeckner did when he created the post-punk outfit Operators. He joined forces with multi-instrumentalist Devojka and Divine Fits drummer Sam Brown to create amazing music, culminating in their debut album Blue Wave, released today on Last Gang Records.
The album begins with “Rome”, an up-beat rock anthem, showcasing each member’s unique strengths. Dan’s voice is deep and haunting during the verses, with his guitar beautifully complementing his voice, while Sam’s drums keep the song moving forward.
The next track “Control” is more electronic, with Devojka’s synths on full display. This song and the previous one definitely gives the listener a feel for the record. The combination of Devojka’s synths and Sam’s drums pick up the pace, while Dan’s vocals have an echoing effect, showing the dance side of Operators.
The first single from the album, “Cold Light” blends the two distinct sounds together. Devojka’s electronic music takes a more ambient feel during the choruses, becoming atmospheric along with Sam’s more rock-inspired drumming. Dan is right in the middle, with powerful vocals flipping between more pop melodies and post-punk rumbling. His guitar is filtered to echo, while keeping the post-punk feel in the foreground.
“Mission Creep” continues this blend, having Devojka’s intricate synthesizers carry the main melodies. The drumming creates a great base for Devojka and Dan to build on top of, making a darker sounding track. Dan’s voice becomes breathy during the chorus, and hard hitting in the verses, mirroring the synths and drums. The horns in the verses are a great addition in the track.
The title track follows the more dance sound. The saxophone is back throughout the track, adding punches of sound to the synths. Dan’s vocals are filtered to have a fuzzy quality to it, building on the electronic feel of the song.
The rock is back with “Shape of Things”, with a focus on the drums and guitar. The synths are more atmospheric, like in “Cold Light”, complimenting the fast-paced drumming by Sam. Dan’s voice is clear and distinct from the instrumentation, making the listener feel like he is singing right to them.
“Bring Me The Head” is another great combination track, pulling dance and post-punk together. The drums and the synths meld together into a dark dance melody with heavy bass drum. These stay in the background during the verses, while moving forward with expert synth melodies in the chorus, contrasting with the rawness of Dan’s voice. the track builds at the end to a harsh electric buzz.
The next song, “Nobody”, brings the album back down, creating a light-hearted dance-rock track. Everyone seems more calm, with slower drums and steady synths. Dan’s voice is less strained and rough than some of the other tracks. Devojka takes centre stage, playing melodies that mirror and compliment Dan’s guitar lines, especially near the end.
“Evil” is back to the post-punk sound, focusing on the drums, guitar and bass. The synths come in during the first chorus and continue throughout, more as accompaniment, and less as a main part.
The final track, “Space Needle”, starts off quite slow with echoing synths behind Dan’s raw vocals. The drums come in suddenly with Dan’s guitar and Devojka’s fuller synth lines, picking the piece up and expanding. It’s a great, full-sounding end to a debut record, which has taking the listener through brooding post-punk to upbeat electronic.
This is a major step away from Wolf Parade for Dan, and from Divine Fits for Sam. However, this is a seat in the right direction. The influence of touring mates Future Islands and New Pornographers is apparent, but Operators are not copying them. They have taken influence from them and made it their own. Go pick up a copy of this superb debut record and check them out during their tour of North America over the next month.
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