Published Jan 27, 2020Thin Mind occupies a weird space in Wolf Parade's oeuvre: their fifth full-length album, their second album after a five-year hiatus, and their first output in over 16 years as a three-piece, following the recent departure of former Hot Hot Heat member Dante DeCaro.
Unapologetically synth-forward, Thin Mind harkens back to the band's earliest EPs, albeit with an overhauled production value and a far glossier finish. Where "Julia Take Your Man Home" bounces with a "Heart of Glass"-style energy, the notably punchier, verging-on-vaporwave "Forrest Green" is backed by a series of oscillating MIDI patterns and an overly compressed drum machine.
As is often the case for the band, the album feels consciously divvied up between singer-guitarist Dan Boeckner and singer-keyboardist Spencer Krug, with each occupying the limelight on certain songs and taking a backseat on others. Unfortunately for the former, the album's reverence for '80s and '90s synthesizers often buries or outright supplants Wolf Parade's singularly cool guitar work, with Thin Mind lacking a real Boeckner earworm the way their records usually do.
Conversely, Krug's side of the album is replete with haunting melodies on tracks like "As Kind As You Can" and "Out of Control," and is so front-loaded with synthesized soundscapes, it feels redundant to list them all.
Despite this milquetoast approach at pushing a new sound, Thin Mind never drags or feels out of step with itself. At the expense of sounding more classically "Wolf Parade," the album suffices as a fun listen with some neat nostalgic nods, lopsidedness and all. (Royal Mountain Records)