Total Magique – We Are Wolves

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Canadian act We Are Wolves have managed to pull off an all-too-rare balance between experimentalism and sheer rock and roll force. Theirs is a heavy brew of bass, squealing synths and drums that, in combination, conjure a dance robot army bent on destroying you. Really. Look out.

Tracks like the “Fight and Kiss” could be right out of Suicide or The Screamers play book. But the Wolves balance those experimental textures with the raw power of Brainiac and the catchy choruses of Depeche Mode, which almost seem to be forbidden in music like this. For instance, the track “Magique” starts off as a swirling tom tom heavy attack before it swings around for the chorus and explodes into a beat so catchy and danceable that it rivals the likes of !!! and New Order. These two worlds don’t usually coexist comfortably. Surely, the pop is susceptible to drown in these experimental textures, that or the rough edges risk polishing under the catchy beats, but on Magique it all works together, and spectacularly so.

Primary vocalist Alexander Ortiz whoops and hollers with the best of them. His studio performance begs a live viewing. Imagining him going off on “Psychic Kids” gives me full-body goosebumps. (Ed- we can’t guarantee this reaction for everyone.) It’s aggression, beauty, melody and power, when most singers are lucky if they can muster just one of those traits.

We Are Wolves make good, honest dance rock music. While many artists get bloated on masturbatory ideas or lost in the dance scene d’jour, We Are Wolves are a honed machine.