Wolf Parade: Expo 86
Sub Pop (2010)
After a shaky start I’ve tried, for the most part to keep Evol Kween: The Musical focused on music’s fringes. The trouble is, at the moment my state of mind is far more attuned to the melodrama of rock n’ roll. The theatrics, earnestness and volts of electrified guitars. Vocals. Lyrics.
Bubbling up out of this is the latest Wolf Parade record, Expo 86. These guys are never gonna’ break big, they’re too awkward and ragged around the edges but I guarantee that in ten years time a new generation of indie rock kids will be banging on about how influential Wolf Parade’s lazy guitar licks, playful keyboards and live-in-the-room drums have been on their sound. Fuck Arcade Fire’s bombast and fuck Of Montreal’s pretentiousness. When it comes to Canada, Wolf Parade is where it’s at.
These are pop songs dressed up in Pavement’s slacker aesthetic and the beautiful beginning of Grunge’s 1970’s Rock Eisteddfod. Ziggy Stardust is wigging out on stage and dare I say that Fleetwood Mac is dipping their toes in there too. I may have just described Smashing pumpkins (minus the Pavement reference) but that’s absolutely not what this is about. The lack of bass stops Expo 86 from bloated rock revivalism, and the dippy keyboards steer well clear of ironic 80s references. Angst is replaced with Springsteen’s knack for singing tales of towns that don’t change, dirty graduation gowns and kids singing along with the radio in their bedrooms.
Wolf Parade keep things quirky enough to sound fresh but comforting; for every uneasy melodic interplay between keys and guitar, there’s a familiar chord progression to soothe your nerves. It’s apparent they don’t believe that rock is dead, dying, ironic or hip and listening to Expo 86 I have to agree.