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Wolf Parade, ‘Expo 86’ (Sub Pop)

wolf parade, expo 86, review
SPIN Rating: 7 of 10
Release Date: June 29, 2010
Label: Sub Pop

Part of what made Wolf Parade’s opening double shot-2005’s Apologies to the Queen Mary and 2008’s At Mount Zoomer-so thrilling was how the band leaped between Spencer Krug’s glammy keyboard-based oompahs and Dan Boeckner’s desperate, comparatively down-home guitar chugs. The arty dude/rock dude dichotomy has powered bands since forever, but rarely was it handled with such dizzying aplomb. With these guys, the vertigo was a kick.

Put away the Bonine. Expo 86 is the first album from the Montreal foursome that sounds as if it was made by only one band. High points like the rollicking “Cave-O-Sapien” and mechanically funky “Ghost Pressure” suggest that Krug and Boeckner have internalized each other’s idiosyncrasies, such is the ease with which the former revs and the latter lurches. Elsewhere, roller-coaster opener “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain,” burning cosmonaut blues “Yulia,” and the anxiously churning “Palm Road” show that the Parade’s main men aren’t saving songs for their side projects.

Still, there’s a nagging sense that a ten-minute fever dream in the vein of Zoomer’s “Kissing the Beehive” would help to set everything else in stylish relief. And that the band’s internal combustion isn’t generating quite as much energy as it did on Mary standouts “Shine a Light” or “I’ll Believe in Anything.” Which is to say that Expo 86 is simply the sound of a majestic and well-oiled indie machine.