Friday, July 16, 2010

Wolf Parade - Expo 86

Suppose there was a machine that could project out an image of what was happening in a person’s brain. Could take the waves, electrical pulses and vibrations, and assemble them into some sort of moving picture. Let’s call it a neuropictometer. Now, pretend someone took that contraption and aimed it at Spencer Krug’s and Dan Boeckner’s heads. Eccentrically beautiful and wildly bizarre illustrations would plaster the walls like someone made a smoothie without putting the lid on the blender. You’d have portraits filled with cacophonies of abstruse colors splashed erratically across crooked canvases, scenes populated by people in the midst of their own personal maraudings, wilds overgrown with caterwauling imaginations. And that’s only the minds of Wolf Parade’s two lead vocalists. You could create a sci-fi movie series longer than all six Star Wars episodes and better than both runs of the miniseries V if you beamed brainwaves out of the craniums of all four band members.

On Expo 86, Wolf Parade’s upcoming release, everyone contributes their own personal mania. Everyone gets their moment to exercise their fevers. Sure Krug’s and Boeckner’s awkwardly bleating vocals are iconic of the band, but so too is the play of Arlen Thompson and Dante DeCaro. Starting from the very first song, “Cloud Shadow On the Mountain,” Thompson’s driving drumming forms a steady force, and he spends a great deal of time hammering the shit out of the skins and beating the brass off his cymbals, creating emphasis and rhythm. Meanwhile, DeCaro rakes and ravages solos on the guitar. Boeckner also plays guitar but it’s DeCaro who handles the big moments. His lick to open “What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way)” blows the fucking doors open for the rest of the song and pounds over top of Krug’s ringing and vibrating keyboard play. It’s one of the most ecstatic moments on the entire album. DeCaro simply kills it and everyone else takes his lead. Krug gets his moment on “In the Direction of the Moon,” and beguiles the black and whites, stretching and contorting their sounds. Everyone leads at one point or another and the album is largely successful because of that united approach.

Everything on Expo 86 was recorded live to tape except the vocals and you can tell by the thickness of the sound. It’s almost overwhelmingly massive, a wave rising and crashing back down with the power and energy of the biggest Pacific coast barrel. It sounds like you’re hearing it live, which you can do in Portland on July 27th. The band poured more of their raw muscle and force into the recording resulting in an album heavy with potency and life. They’ve managed to spill their goddamned brains out into the music. Though we may be years away from creating the most basic neuropictometer, we don’t need one to see the reels rolling in the brains of Wolf Parade. We’ve got Expo 86.

2 songs from Wolf Parade's EXPO 86 by subpop

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