Wolf Parade – Expo ’86



I have to subtract points for sadness, because I miss Apologies to the Queen Mary and now I know it’s never coming back. That album was a wonderful thing, and I remember seeing Wolf Parade way back in the day at the Danforth Music Hall and thinking ‘this is something great.’ It’s a wonderful feeling to realize you’re witnessing a musical happening, a real new talent, some band that seemingly appears fully formed in your life and starts popping into your thoughts and you god damned like it, you like it a lot. “Spend boring years in the office tower / On a bus on a bus back home to you and / That’s fine I’m barely alive” YES “You’ll believe in anything and I’ll believe in anything” YES “I’m not in love with the modern world / It was a torch to drive the savages back to the trees” YES it was just about every song on that damned album. So correct, so staccato, so tense, yet so fun to listen to.

“At Mount Zoomer” was still usually pretty good. I knew it was foolish to feel like the songs related to me that time, but I still tried and with some cajoling I could convince myself to connect songs and days, this walk with my girlfriend with The Grey Estates, this night on the Gardiner with A Soldier’s Grin’s two glorious verses, and it was still usually fun to listen to.

This time the jig’s up. The band’s moved on from what I love and I’m left holding onto memories. There’s no way any of this relates to me and it’s barely fun to hear. This is very serious music. No having fun to these songs! They are all very long and multi-part and bathed in moody, fuzzy keyboards, and never have repeated, normal choruses like normal songs. Oh, lots of bands can pull off the “we’re too good for repetition” bit. The Unicorns are the first that come to mind. But The Unicorns wrote short, fun songs where each bit was catchy on its own. On this one the songs are all quite good – they’re carefully constructed and well played and I like the musical interplay and Spencer’s extremely nervous voice is a nice change, but I’ll turn to it when I’m sad. And like I said, the songs are not evenly made, so just when you really like something – like the chorus of the first half of “Palm Road” or the keyboard line in the verses of the first half of “Golden Age” – it’s gone forever, replaced with texture and atmosphere, or something. I never had much time for “lush” sounds and they’re over this one, usually it’s a sure sign that the songwriting is down.

Oh, and the songs are quite long. Nearly all of them clock in well over five minutes, and that’s a long time for all this above average blandness to sink in until it has gone through you and you barely remember the songs at all. Seriously, does “In The Direction of the Moon” do anything worth remembering in six minutes? “Ghost Pressure” and “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain”, among others are nice when listening, but make no significant emotional connection. On the last third of the album the dudes take a left turn down Cute Song Title Lane and come up with the best of the standard tracks with “Pobody’s Nerfect”, but “Two Men in New Tuxedos” is just a short forgettable song, and “Oh You, Old Thing” is back to the usual sameness. Thankfully the album saved its two best songs for the end, the paleolithic waltz duo of love song “Yulia” and actually fun rocker “Cave-o-sapien”, the only one of the long rock songs that hangs together well enough to make a recommendation. Really, the switch from super-serious art to caveman chanting isn’t as far of a shift as I’d like (it probably has some weird artistic justification going on about man’s connection with apes or our inner children or something) but it does something nothing on the album does for me: it makes me pace around my apartment enjoying the hell out of listening, or when I’m walking down the street I get a spring in my step. Once again, I feel like I’m on to something great. But of course, it and the album are too-quickly over and I feel a bit empty for knowing that hitting play on “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain” will leave me unfulfilled.



One thought on “Wolf Parade – Expo ’86

  1. Pingback: Expo 86 (Wolf Parade) - 3.18 stars (76.3%) - The Album List : The Album List

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