Wolf Parade’s frenetically charged Expo 86 careens from song to song like a runaway mine car, propelled by a soundtrack that combines the giddy intelligence of Talking Heads and Devo and the raw Indie Rock verve of Trip Shakespeare and Modest Mouse. The band’s third album wasn’t shaped by extreme personal drama, but it was definitely steered by internal changes after 2008’s At Mount Zoomer. Certainly a significant shift was downsizing to a quartet after synthesist/sound manipulator Hadji Bakara entered the University of Chicago’s English lit doctorate program.
Expo 86’s other distinguishing aspect is the speed with which the band worked. After Zoomer’s lengthy process, the band’s mindset from the beginning was to work more quickly this time. The band was eager to record together after nearly a year off following Zoomer’s final tour.
“I needed to work with Sunset Rubdown, my other band,” Spencer Krug says. “And it gave (guitarist) Dan (Boeckner) a chance to focus on his band, Handsome Furs. It gave everyone a chance to just kind of get away from each other and get other things done. Dan and I were both juggling these projects and we were just going crazy. Not in a bad way, we weren’t fighting or anything, but things were getting stale. We wanted to make another record, but the idea of touring for another six months and then making a record gave us the sense that we would have made a bad record.”
Wolf Parade’s process on Expo 86 was also partially driven by the members’ perspective on At Mount Zoomer. While Krug notes that the band (Krug, Boeckner, multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro, drummer Arlen Thompson) has a great deal of affection for the album, he recognizes the qualities that detracted from it as well.
“Wolf Parade has been pretty good at making a mish-mash because we have two different songwriters, me and Dan,” Krug says. “We’re always trying different ideas, especially on the last record. You can call it charming, but it’s a bunch of different styles and every song is quite a lot different than the one before it, whereas I think this record is more cohesive. We did know that we wanted to record mostly live off the floor and play and write the record as a Rock band, without trying to be anything more clever.”
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