Wolf Parade – Expo 86

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Three albums into their career, it’s difficult to explain what exactly the entity Wolf Parade actually is, as it stands at present.  Their insanely popular Apologies to Queen Mary blew us away, but as more side projects came into the foray, the group didn’t seem as tightly knit as they once were, almost as if they exhausted their creativity in other works.  Will Expo 86 see the return to greatness? Will it finally win everyone over?

Pounding drums introduce the album, with singer Spencer Krug letting his wavering voice accompany the guitars on “Cloud Shadow of the Mountain”  There’s a sense of urgency in the song, as if the band is dedicated to make an impression.  If there is a note to make from the get go, it’s that Wolf Parade have come out firing with a barrage of noisiness–not a bad idea.

You’ll relive the heavy bounce of the group’s olden days when you come upon “What Did My Lover Say.”  Keyboards are met by slicing guitar lines, and Krug sort of his hangs his vocals in the air during the chorus, but clearly the cohesiveness wins out here, as all elements work together tightly.  As usual, this isn’t just Krug’s entourage, it’s a group with two dynamic singers.  Dan Boeckner brings his throaty post-punk vocal to “Little Golden Age,” which is an energized number with dark undertones of electronics that drive the song to its rambunctious climax.

You’ll find traces of the individual projects of key members lying around here. “Ghost Pressure” definitely wears the influence of Handsome Furs, using Boeckner and heavy electronic touches to give a little backbone to the tune.  Most people will find Dan’s chorus vocal extremely appealing (as I do), but you’ll also note the blasts from 80s house electronica coming through.  Krug plays his part too on “Two Men in New Tuxedos,” which bears his mark not only on the vocal, but just in the songwriting in general.  He definitely plays the role of the odd writer in the group, giving us less straightforward lyrics to follow than his partner.  All in all, there individual voices flourish throughout, but the success of Expo 86 lies in the team aspect.

Their disjointed presence at times has clearly dissolved.  You take a song like “Yulia,” which is probably one of the band’s most honest pop tracks to date, and you’ll notice that everyone is working together.  Drums are tight, Krug adds his keyboard flourishes, Boeckner takes lead, and it’s all so tight.  Separately they’ve honed their craft, and finally brought it all together to create a strongly united Wolf Parade.  Perhaps they’ve given up on offering hooks and whatnot to the audience, choosing to create art of their own liking with the perfect balance of all members taking precedent.  It makes Expo 86 a great rock album, and one that everyone will be listening to for the unforeseeable future, as the band is back, doing what they do best.  They’ve given us unique rock of the heavier sort, which suits us all just fine.


Download: Wolf Parade – Ghost Pressure [MP3]

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