[sic] Magazine

Wolf Parade – Expo 86

Wolf Parade have long been the commercial, unit-shifting division of Spencer Krug ‘s Canadian conglomerate. Less challenging than the commendable Frog Eyes and Swan Lake projects, and less boisterously epic than his flagship weird Sunset Rubdown , Wolf Parade have chugged along in murky indie-rock waters on two previous outings pleasing many, but not all, on their way.

The inventive debut Apologies To The Queen Mary was gloriously hit and sadly miss, and its successor At Mount Zoomer downright disappointing in comparison. Wolf Parade may be the most attainable of Krug’s arsenal, but overall, to these ears, also the least likeable – until now that is.

Less than the sum of their parts on at least one of the two previous attempts, Expo 86 seems to have struck a winning balance. It’s interesting and sufficiently challenging, poppy but varied. It’s epic too, as the drum battery, galloping tempos and shifting refrains of the opening tour de force “Cloud Shadow On The Mountain” so definitely confirm. And you could rarely say that about Apologies.

Consequently, the album’s 55 minutes fly by keeping the listener largely enthralled. The relationship Krug has with fellow singer and songwriter Dan Boeckner , a man not short of bands himself, finally sounds entirely complementary. Whilst the pair arguably fail to produce true fireworks on Expo 86, it nevertheless has an exciting backbone.

Krug’s theatrical howl sounds refreshed set against the enviably tight and patient new-wave indie-rock spikes of “What Did My Lover Say?”, as well as on its intelligent sister “Ghost Pressure”. Thrusts of synths set the latter apart, and whilst whiffing a touch of The Bravery they are blended into the mix much less derivatively, even though the resultant subdued delays of “Oh You, Old Thing” have a touch of the Gary Numan s to them.

The beefy “Pobody’s Nerfect”, which is as close to much-likened Modest Mouse as Wolf Parade come on this occasion, is surprisingly sing-along in between its classic rock riffs, and “Yulia” doubles that feeling, coming on like Springsteen – all throat-growled blue-collar stuff with militaristic progressions and a discernible hands-in-the-air quality.

Ultimately, Expo 86 finally does Wolf Parade more than justice, at last making at least this penny drop.

Advised downloads : “Cloud Shadow On The Mountain” and “What Did My Lover Say?”.

~Expo 86 is out now on Sub Pop .~