Wolf Parade, EXPO 86

Wolf Parade, EXPO 86

Wolf Parade’s music has always been a little bit all over the place. Their penchant for reverb-drenched vocals and brash, buzzing guitar has always kept them on the messier side of indie-rock. This messiness isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though — it’s what sets them apart from more light-weight bands like Vampire Weekend and Tokyo Police Club.

The messiness is still there on their new album, EXPO 86. The two things that are different, though, are a refreshing energy in the songs and the cohesiveness of the band’s sound.

These distinguishing aspects are probably a product of the unconventional approach Wolf Parade took to creating EXPO 86. After the band’s well-received sophomore album At Mount Zoomer, they decided to take a year-long hiatus from Wolf Parade, during which each of the members worked instead on the million side-projects they each have. When they all got back together and began recording all the stuff they’d squirreled away in their brains and notebooks over the break, stuff happened fast. In less than five months, they recorded eleven tracks of thick, tightly-coiled rock n’ roll to unleash on the unsuspecting world.

The speed with which the band recorded means that the songs are rough and energetic, reflecting the rushed feeling of the studio. Danceable drumbeats covered with guitarist Dan Boeckner’s arena-rock riffs are the standard for most songs on the album, with singer Spencer Krug’s warble threaded through. The bright and jagged synth lines that jump up to the surface of “In The Direction of the Moon” keep the otherwise slow-paced song from getting boring.

Krug’s singing is more energetic too — although still shrouded in plenty of reverb, he gets pleasantly yelpy in “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain,” the stand-out first track on the album. The track after it, “Palm Road,” takes a downturn by sounding a little bit too much like a meandering jam session out of a teenager’s garage. The next track, “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way),” picks things up a little, with some poppy drums and Krug’s slightly crazed rambling about how, “I have a friend who’s a genius, nobody listens to him. I have some friends who are famous, la la la.”

But in spite of the band’s newfound energy, most of the songs start with a promise that they never end up fulfilling. While the first and last tracks deliver a decent amount of punch, there’s otherwise nothing that you find yourself humming along to. There’s a general feeling of restraint throughout the album that wasn’t as present on At Mount Zoomer, and it’s a little disappointing. That messiness that sets them apart is also the reason that so few of the songs on EXPO 86 are interesting.

(Sub Pop Records -- 2013 4th Ave. 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA. 98121; http://www.subpop.com/; Wolf Parade -- http://www.myspace.com/wolfparade)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, November 22nd, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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