Dan Boeckner, the Canadian singer/guitarist of indie rock group Wolf Parade is having quite the year. Fresh off the announcement of the reformation of his original group, Boeckner’s side project Operators, now has released their debut full-length album, entitled Blue Wave. Operators seem destined to join the synth-indie-pop consortium that has created so many other bands that have blossomed fruitfully, such as Hot Chip and the recently reunited LCD Soundsystem. Much like the aforementioned James Murphy project, Boeckner seems to inject a steady amount of punk and post-punk music into his electronic sound. The tracks such as “Mission Creep” and “Bring Me The Head” definitely have a vintage ‘80s feel in nature, while at the same time sounding modern and contemporary. The album artwork, in addition, feels like something from a Cocteau Twins or a My Bloody Valentine record, thereby reinforcing the 1980s influence.
However, unlike groups such as Hot Chip and Bloc Party, there is little that makes their music stand out among other alt-dance groups. “Shape of Things” could have just been as easily been a deep cut on an album for either of the two previously mentioned bands. While the “punk” and “alternative” vibe is definitely well alive in this record, the “pop” element is not as present. Boeckner definitely needs to work on making the hooks to his songs more appealing if he wants to bring in more general audiences to his sound.
Despite this, the instrumentals in the album are definitely top-notch material. The songs do feel danceable and are well constructed. On “Control” the synthesizers and guitars feel reminiscent of old school acid house. “Cold Light”, on the other hand feels more like a midtempo guitar-pop track, with swelling synth pads. It’s definitely pleasing to see an experienced musician like Boeckner to try to do something different and enjoyable, to boot. One of the more notable tracks on the album is the closing song “Space Needle.” Boeckner sings on the track “We’re leaving here tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.” With this album, that statement definitely feels accurate; Blue Wave is not about moving forward, but using the past works of artists to create something fun and mildly pleasurable.