Wolf Parade is alert, attentive, and upbeat on Expo 86
, the third record in their already fairly epic lineage. It's easy to see the sprawling road of Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner's co-existence here, the two having a history of trading off songwriting (and each supplementing themselves with side projects). Predictably, on the third group effort, they work in tandem more than bumping heads. At Mt. Zoomer
, for all its cohesion, still had clear delineations. The lines are fading fast as Wolf Parade cements it's place as one of the most deserving "hip" bands on the market, simultaneously credible and cool (a feat often claimed, but not delivered).
goes down more like a blended drink than a shot and a beer, an obvious step in the path of a band hell-bent on being one of the most influential of the decade. Wolf Parade went from drunken messes (see early performances) to the go-to band that Hipsters love to love. They became the unintentional butt of many "too cool for school" stereotypes, along with thick framed glasses and skinny jeans. But Expo 86
is kind of a big "eff you" to that mindset, especially considering they've really developed as song writers and performers, written an album of instantly accessible giddiness, and require little to no marination. Two years ago I called Wolf Parade an acquired taste. Well now they are more like salt and pepper.
I say this because while both are essential, one is still used more frequently on my food. Of course, it's not much of a surprise (to me anyway) that I still favor Dan's songs overall. But Krug is close, and I really can't imagine this band without the dichotomy. Opener "Cloud Shadow on the Mountain" (Krug) is one of my favorite Wolf Parade cuts of all time, and it's very Krug-sian in it's lyricism and structure. I definitely prefer it to the first Boeckner track, "Palm Road", which while deliciously serendipitous, doesn't quite pack the same punch. But this is very nitpicky, the moral here is that it matters less and less who wrote what; Wolf Parade finally sounds comprehensive throughout... growth at its most useful. The two pre-release tracks "What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)" and "Ghost Pressure" actually sound like the same band, with Boeckner's guitar parts and Krug's synth playing a prominent part in both riffs. Subtle, but subtract the vocals, and an emerging equilibrium is apparent.
Barring discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of the songwriters, Expo 86
is a supremely enjoyable collection of songs... more immediate than Mt. Zoomer
, and much more polished than their debut. The band sounds like a nine volt battery. The songs aren't as brooding or introspective; on the contrary, the subject matter is akin to the dueling panned riffs, left and right, up and down, all over the place. Krug still does his sonic spelunking, and Boeckner still sounds like the Canadian Springsteen. That stuff hasn't changed. But the songs are decidedly more put together, like a bunch of different people all dressed in the same uniform. Wolf Parade is acting like a team, and this time, everybody wins. -joe puglisi
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MP3: "Ghost Pressure" (Expo 86)
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