by Michael Veenstra
Why should a band like Handsome Furs win a prize like the Polaris? Why not? The prize’s stated mandate is to “honour, celebrate, and reward creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music” and Sound Kapital is certainly there.
The album does away with safe choices and melds cleverness, catchiness, and artistry into a collection of songs that draws listeners away from the sound of their previous record, Face Control, and into a more experimental and progressive electronica sound.
I think the biggest factor in favour of Handsome Furs winning the Polaris Prize is the band themselves. No longer together, the Montreal-based husband-and-wife duo were well-known for energetic performances, expressive and engaging music. They, in my eyes, represent a sort of “try-anything-once” attitude proudly exuded by many Canadians. Despite its electronic and 1980’s industrial roots, Sound Kapital is somehow quite obviously Canadian as well.
The album itself is stunning, even as a listener who tends towards less dance/electronic music. “What About Us” and “Repatriated” (currently streaming on the Sub Pop website) are fantastic examples of a largely well-crafted and precise album.
Furthermore, a record like Sound Kapital is rare, because its ostensibly the last record the band will produce, and this is the first major prize they will win. Having made the Polaris Long List in 2009 and being nominated for a Juno Award in 2010, I think in some sense Handsome Furs are due.