Wolf Parade
Expo 86


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
June 29th, 2010 | 63 replies | 17,387 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Maybe the best synthesis of the band's schizoid sound yet.

Lately I’ve been wondering whether it’s possible for me to like music as much as I used to years ago, when everything seemed so fresh and new and I was hearing so many bands for the first time and loving it all. So many of those bands that really came to define my tastes put out later albums that, for whatever reason, just never hit me with the same impact. The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love was damn good and I adored it, but am I still listening to it nowadays? No, but I can definitely say that I regularly throw on Picaresque or Her Majesty on an occasional basis, still with the same vigor I had back in high school. It makes me wonder: am I honestly just not into certain bands as much as I used to be, or am I imagining a decline in quality because nothing will match that certain nostalgic feeling I get from listening to old favorites?

When I first heard Expo 86 a little under a month ago, I hated it. I thought it was Wolf Parade, a band I absolutely fell in love with after their brilliant debut, playing it safe and close to the chest, typical structures matching typical Wolf Parade lyrics formatted in typical Wolf Parade songwriting (you know, that slightly herky-jerky, everything’s-about-to-fall-apart-but-never-actually-does musical style). It wasn’t Apologies to the Queen Mary, and, apart from occasional flashes, it wasn’t really that close, and that pissed me off. But it wasn’t At Mt. Zoomer, a bloated mess of an album if ever there was one, so I gave it another chance. And another, and another, and I began to realize something – this is a distinctly Wolf Parade record, one that is decidedly separate from either Apologies or Zoomer and entirely the better for it. It’s different from both those records, both in the strength of its songwriting (something that took me many listens to appreciate) and the way it somehow combines two increasingly divergent personalities in Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner into something definitely double-sided but still uniform.

Fans of the band will definitely be able to tell who wrote opener “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain,” what with its paranoid vocal line, spindly guitar work and frantic rhythm (Krug), just as they’ll be able to tell who’s responsible for “Palm Road,” with its more swelling melody and cavernous sounds (Boeckner). But Expo 86, more than any work in the band’s catalog, shows a band working together to create something arguably as strong as anything they’ve done before, something I never would have thought possible considering the amount of time both songwriters were putting into more creatively satisfying side projects. Krug’s overlying weirdness is still evident, particularly on the opener and the wild closer “Cave-o-Sapien,” but he seems to be more influenced by Boeckner in putting more of a pop bent on things, focusing on crafting one of the record’s most gorgeous yet straightforward melodies on “Oh You, Old Thing” or taking a page from Boeckner’s guitar style with the slinky “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way).” Combine songs like these with Boeckner’s expectedly superb, if more reserved, pop offerings like the stick-in-your-head chorus to “Ghost Pressure,” the anthemic “Little Golden Age” and even more Krugian mini-epics like “Pobody’s Nerfect,” and Expo 86 comes across as maybe the best synthesis of the band's schizoid sounds yet.

It’s not that Krug has tamed his more out-of-left-field impulses in favor of a more shackled sound, or that Boeckner hasn’t expanded his horizons – it’s that the songwriting is so rock solid and the songs themselves so genuinely fresh that it sounds like the band is almost starting anew, throwing away the experimental stench that torpedoed At Mt. Zoomer and going back to what really made them great. “Yulia” is the kind of wrenching love song I never thought I’d hear from Wolf Parade; “Oh You, Old Thing” is a shimmering break-up tune that I’d never expect from a lyrical oddball like Krug; hell, all the songs here are so atypically direct and so great it’s hard not to fall in love. It’s not as delightfully jagged around the edges as Apologies, but perhaps the band needed to move away from that sound and into more traditional indie rock territory. Expo 86 proves that Krug and Boeckner still can do what’s always been most important, namely writing songs that still kick ass at every available opportunity. And while this isn’t as immediately satisfying as Apologies still is to me . . . maybe in a couple of years it will be.



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user ratings (127)
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3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
June 29th 2010



10307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks cam

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Ponton
Emeritus
June 29th 2010



5788 Comments


great review

like your initial listens to this, I haven't been too impressed. I guess I need to give it the extra time that you did

Bitchfork
June 30th 2010



7584 Comments


Not bad.

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



10307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i think the record really begins to take off with "What did my lover say" - that and little golden age and the last 3 songs are just brilliant.

Bitchfork
June 30th 2010



7584 Comments


typo:
“Ghost Pressure, ”the anthemic

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



10307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

word

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



17204 Comments


good shit.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



15728 Comments


this seems like a band i have no desire to listen to

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Ponton
Emeritus
June 30th 2010



5788 Comments


pretty happy that this isn't another zoomer though

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



10307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

downer you never listened to apologies? i thought you sucked but not that hard

liledman
June 30th 2010



3826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

going to listen to this in a bit, dont have high hopes after the two tracks ive heard though.

good review.

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 30th 2010



3743 Comments


this seems like a band i have no desire to listen to


ugggggggh

good shit rudy, like second paragraph describes my experience with this album perfectly so h5 bro

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



15728 Comments


like ive heard sunset rubdown which i believe is the same guy, right? was not a fan of that but i mean if yer all gonna get on my dick about it

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



15002 Comments


this seems like a band i have no desire to listen to


123

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 30th 2010



3743 Comments


well sunset rubdown generally blows and this geenrally doesn;t so theres that

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



10307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

sunset rubdown is nothing like this. Also alex open your ears

plane
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2010



6092 Comments


Hopefully that second paragraph happens for me as well, but At Mount Zoomer is pretty good. At least it had Language City.

Douglas
June 30th 2010



9093 Comments


downer you never listened to apologies? i thought you sucked but not that hard


yes.

Digging: James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

AggravatedYeti
June 30th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was hoping you nabbed this album, review is killer and the record is just starting to fall into place for me.
Def better than Zoomer

robin
Emeritus
June 30th 2010



4247 Comments


still barely scratched the surface of apologies, i guess i would like this anyway?



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