Montreal-based synth rock band Handsome Furs first announced their third album, "Sound Kapital," on April 12. By April 13, the first reviews of "Kapital" had already begun cropping up online, many penned by listeners who seemed to be in shock at their own good fortune. The album, which arrived June 28 on Sub Pop Records, had leaked almost instantly.
"Wait really?" one poster wrote on a Furs fan forum. "EVERYTHING'S MOVING TOO FAST," another complained. The band, as it happens, would agree.
"It was kind of an intense experience," says Alexei Perry, the keyboard half of the keys-and-guitar duo. (Her husband, Dan Boeckner, co-leader of another well-regarded Canadian indie rock act -- Wolf Parade -- serves as guitarist/vocalist.) "It was so early. Everyone was blogging about how it was the quickest leak following an album announcement ever, or something. We were just like, 'Well, glad we can be known for that.'"
Looking to make the best out of challenging circumstances, the band and Sub Pop made a high-quality download of "Kapital" instantly available with a special preorder long before the album was due to reach stores.
"We tried to put it in perspective as people just being really eager to hear the music," Perry says. "The one good thing was when we took the new songs on tour to different places around the world, people would sing along because they already knew the words. So we made the most out of it."
According to Sub Pop A&R manager Stuart Meyer, the label tried not to fret about the forced improvisation of the release strategy."
As with any leak, or prerelease download, we don't worry too much about what effect that will have on the performance of an album," Meyer says. "It's a way of life now. You have to keep your eye on the bigger picture in the long term."
"Sound Kapital" represents something of an exclamation point in the narrative of a band that has increasingly embraced its dance-friendly instincts. Handsome Furs' 2007 debut album, "Plague Park," introduced an engaging formula that towed the line between melancholic guitar rock and airy synth pop. Then came 2009's "Face Control," a more uptempo detour through the nightclubs of Eastern Europe that registered on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. "Sound Kapital" is the band's first album based entirely on synthesizers, and, in spurts, it outright jams.
"We probably have gotten more electronic because we like having our shows turn into raucous, upbeat dance parties," Perry says. "We like heavy beats, making people move around. [For this album] we had some ideas about the future as well as re-creating certain sounds and feelings from some of our favorite bands of the past. Synths seemed like the most conducive way to translate all of those ideas."
Handsome Furs' live show has attracted an international following. The band has such a reputation for touring large swaths of the rock-deprived Eastern Hemisphere that in 2010 it became the subject of a CNN documentary Web series called "Indie Asia: On Tour With Handsome Furs."
As an album, "Sound Kapital" is no less than an attempt to unite these disparate fan bases around a communal sonic territory. "Their touring has played a big part of their story," Meyer says. "They go places that few other bands ever go."