Like their previous release, At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade‘s Expo 86 is mostly fantastic with a few tracks that, while not bad, are not as gripping as the rest. Fortunately for us all, Expo 86 is front-loaded with dance-ready kick that eases into a slow burn.
Synth-heavy and 80s vibes abound, the songs on the album are at once filled with energy and tinged with melancholy. “Palm Road” is a perfect example; while dark, it still makes you want to dance. Also of note are “Little Golden Age” (the first-listen favorite) and single “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)”. The lyrics of the latter are at times striking, and one phrase is downright novel-worthy: “I wonder if all the beaches / in all your holiday towns / will turn into giant shining earrings against the cheek of the sea / when finally this supernova goes down.” Gorgeous.
While the beginning of Expo 86 breeds excitement, the latter loses steam. There’s cohesion among the halves, due to the basic instrumentation and vocalist Spenser Krug’s distinctive delivery, but the tracks lack the memorable punch that so captures listeners in the beginning.
The final blow comes with closer “Cave-O-Sapien”, which recalls Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” to the point of distraction (seriously – play WP @ 3:52, then BI @ :38). However, it may all be with a wink, a nod, and a stroke of genius from Wolf Parade, as Stereogum reported that Krug’s main criterion for the songs was whether or not he would dance to them. While all the songs may not strike my fancy, it doesn’t matter – Krug and company are going to dance anyway.