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May 24, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Expo 86

Artist: Wolf Parade
Album: Expo 86
Label: Sub Pop

Wolf Parade’s new album has been described on Sub Pop’s site as sounding “sort of like INXS, but also, and mostly, not like INXS at all”. Which I quite like.

Expo 86 is the Montreal outfit’s third album released on Sub Pop. It was recorded in a fairly short amount of time, marking the end of a one-year hiatus, with writing starting in late October/November 2009. The theory behind their hiatus was that by the time they reconvened they would all be creatively recharged and brimming with ideas. And from the sound of it, they were right.

There’s a lot going on in Expo 86. It’s hard to believe that such a full fleshed out sound was churned out by just four members. Each song is overflowing with melody as guitars, synths and beats are layered up and tightly packed in. Rather than giving it a chaotic unsettling feel, all the elements come together harmoniously, bringing density and richness to the album.

Though I haven’t always been completely sold on Wolf Parade’s vocal stylings, this album did win me over. There’s a sense that the vocals are used as an additional instrument, rather than just a vehicle for melody and lyrics, and it works well with the exuberant musical arrangements.

While the album is smooth and well put together, it doesn’t feel over-produced. There’s a real raw, live quality that Wolf Parade have managed to maintain on the album. Upon investigation I found that this is due to the album being recorded largely live, with very few overdubs. This tactic really complements their self-professed aesthetic of maximalism. The absence of polishing lends itself to the sincerity of the songs and the album’s voluptuous sound.

Expo 86 is an unrelenting ride from start to finish, completely devoid of hollow or boring moments. Maintaining a swift, upbeat pace, it’s a seriously fun and charming album.


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Comments (3)

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  1. MBS says:

    I think you summed up the album really well. They feel a lot more comfortable with their own sound than they have before, especially than on At Mt Zoomer. My immediate reaction to the album was that Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug have learned a lot from their time with Handsome Furs, Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, etc. and brought that energy and enthusiasm to Wolf Parade.

  2. Just Wondering says:

    Album rules, but isn’t it a bit dodge to review the album over a month before it comes out?

  3. MBS says:

    You are correct to wonder. I think patience may have been for the best?

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