With overlapping members in profile bands like Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake, the guys of Wolf Parade are no strangers to productivity. After a year hiatus, the Montreal group is back with its third LP, EXPO 86, a shimmering gem of an indie album that manages to be eclectic while at the same time grounded in driving, danceable rhythm. The keyboards are more prominent and a bit more experimental than on previous records, and singer Spencer Krug’s distinctive voice throws as much intensity behind lyrics about love as those describing the colors of the rainbow.
One of Wolf Parade’s greatest strengths is that you never know if the lyrics may take a turn towards the poignant or the surreal, and neither twist feels contrived. Opener “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain” wastes no time in establishing an insistent rhythm and vivid imagery, with squealing guitars evoking a kind of ‘70s rock feel. You don’t necessarily need to be able to follow Krug’s images or logic as long as you can nod along to Arlen Thompson’s drums. “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)” is perhaps the album’s strongest song, complete with strong lyrics like “some people live like they’re falling, some people die in their sleep” complemented by a riff that sticks in the mind like Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.” “Yulia” is a poignant track rooted in history, while “Cave-o- sapien” is illogical bliss. Wolf Parade have used their time away to burst back onto the scene with an album that stands up to the quality of its predecessors and pushes its sound one step to the left and far ahead.