Under Review: Wolf Parade – Expo 86

It might be that I didn’t get into their music around the time of their debut album’s release, but I’ve never quite been able to understand the wild fandom surrounding Wolf Parade.  Hell, I’ve even seen the band in concert and have yet to see what so many others see.  It could be that Apologies To The Queen Mary was the band’s unmatchable high point, or that the band’s leaders’ other projects always seemed more interesting, but Wolf Parade is just an average band.  It’s not such a terrible thing, really, and with lower expectations, I could see them being one of my favorite modern bands.  Perhaps the band’s new album, Expo 86, will have what it takes to convert this skeptic.  Just like on their previous efforts, Expo 86’s songwriting credits are split between guitarist Dan Boeckner and keyboardist Spencer Krug.  It used to be that Boeckner would write and sing the more straightforward, melodic songs while Krug would handle the more experimental and abstruse ones, but those roles are slightly blurred on the new set.  Krug’s “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)” pairs his throaty warble with a slithering guitar lick, and one of his later contributions, “Two Men In New Tuxedoes,” features some crashing percussion punctuation between verses.  Boeckner claims the album’s middle pair of songs, with “Ghost Pressure” and “Pobody’s Nerfect” coming close to catchy and memorable, but falling just short.

That might be my very problem with Wolf Parade: their total lack of memorable songs.  Sure, their artsy songs have intriguing moments, but as soon as one ends and another begins, I can’t recall how the previous tune went.  This could be the result of the band simply packing too many ideas into their songs.  7 of the 11 songs on Expo 86 run over 5 minutes, and the other tracks make this the group’s longest album yet.  My first listen to Expo 86 was cut short just before the final track.  I convinced myself to resume listening, reasoning that the last track might be the album’s best.  In fact, Krug’s “Cave-O-Sapien” is a pretty great song, and is definitely worth sticking around for if you’re committed to listening to the whole record.  Unfortunately, it’s too little much too late, making Expo 86 another long and laborious listen for this continually unconvinced listener.  I’m sure that, if I were already a fan of the band, I might hear this album in a different way, but I know that the guys in Wolf Parade are talented enough to make a mid-career album that’s as good an entry point as their debut.  I’m also sure that, once the next Wolf Parade album comes along, I’ll give it a hopeful chance, only to be disappointed yet again.

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~ by E. on June 28, 2010.

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