Label: Sub Pop Date 29/06/10 Link: Buy/MP3: Amazon/What Did My Lover Say? Loaded with bouncy charm, killer hooks and the obligatory fuzziness that defines Wolf Parade, Expo 86 is a treat in frazzled, off-kilter pop. The album reflects Apologies to the Queen Mary in tempo and creativity: It’s a great deal more upbeat than their sophomore offering, At Mount Zoomer and it essentially manages to escape the overly mainstream, whilst avoiding the vastly experimental. As with ATTQM and AMZ, this one’s a grower; which, in some respects, is due to the density of the arrangements. Initially their complexity is easily overlooked, and the album appears to lack variety; but by the fourth or fifth listen, the underpinned melodies, deep lyrics, and interwoven intricacies vibrantly explode to create an interesting, exciting soundscape. There is no doubt that the band has enough quirkiness and talent to stand alone; it is therefore unfortunate that comparisons with the likes of Bowie, Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire et al, for WP are inescapable. For example, ‘Palm Road’ sounds remarkably like a tamer version of Arcade’s ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ and for this reason, it is probably one of my least favorite songs on the album. That said, Expo 86 has a number of great tracks: ‘Cloud Shadow on the Mountain’ is a wonderfully colourful, danceable opener; full of buzzing, jarring guitars, heaving drums and kooky vocals. WP also creates something dynamic in ‘Ghost Pressure’: a thumping, textured piece that mixes layered guitar and haunting synths; like many of the songs on the album, it also has a raw, gritty, lo-fi edge; which only heightens its wild, organic feel and adds yet another layer into the mix. Hazy, fantastical synth lines twinkle and hum through the upbeat ‘Oh You, Old Thing’, which is probably the most instantly catchy song of the new release. ‘Yulia’ too is enchantingly hopeful; encompassing waves of lively guitars, pounding drums and a mesh of beautiful vocals to create something quite epic and uplifting. Impressively, despite the underlying complexity to these compositions, they never seem over-thought, but, instead, the have a relaxed, nostalgic vibe about them. As one would expect from Wolf Parade, this offering is full of quirky, indie rock tunes that are actually rather good. This is an album that requires patience; its entire mood is achieved through subtlety; those looking for instant gratification won’t find it here. That said, once you’ve broken through the exterior, there is plenty of payoff, and whilst there are a few lacklustre tracks, this is more than made up for by the number gems scattered throughout. Photobucket