Wolf Parade strikes balance between terse and expansive on 'Expo 86'

Past Wolf Parade efforts seemed to see-saw between Dan Boeckner’s terse rockers and Spencer Krug’s more experimental songs, which generally made for interesting, if sometimes uneven listening.

They’ve struck a balance on their latest, “Expo 86” (Sub Pop). The band’s third LP is a collection of 11 new songs that are at once expansive and knotty. It’s a dense record, layered with propulsive drumming and burly guitars, augmented here and there with synthesizers and odd angle, as if splitting the difference between their side projects (Handsome Furs for Boeckner and Sunset Rubdown for Krug).

“Cave-O-Sapien” barrels ahead overdriven guitars that tumble over each other and occasionally lock into a harmony riff, and “Pobody’s Nerfect” veers toward anthemic with a big guitar riff, slow-building organ and one of the most engaging melodies the band has thought up yet.

Another tangle of guitars weaves in and out of the sprawling “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way),” which pulses with dark, glowring energy, while “In the Direction of the Moon” sends icy shards of guitar hurtling at ponderous synthesizer lines.

“Expo 86” is an album loaded with themes and sonic motifs, which occasionally makes it a daunting listen. It’s also Wolf Parade’s most harmonious collection of songs, which makes it worth the effort.

— Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Meqo Sam Cecil

LISTEN
What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Be This Way) mp3
Ghost Pressure mp3

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