Where Apologies to the Queen Mary sounded like a band that needed to prove themselves to get stated and At Mount Zoomer sounded like a band that needed to make an incredible follow-up, Expo 86 sounds like a band that wants to make a genuinely fun record that is straightforward but rewarding to listen to. This might be hard to believe in the first 15 seconds though. “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain” begins with a typically frantic Spencer Krug ranting about a dream. It’s cryptic and weird but an awesome testament to his writing that sets a pace and tone for the rest of the album. Expo 86 never really slows down. It’s a rock album that you can dance to.
“What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way)” is another one of Krug’s songs, but shows early on in the album how Boeckner and Krug are able to work together better than before. Synthesizers and guitar work blend together and let each other stand out at the right moments. The same can be said for “Little Golden Age” which is one of Boeckner’s songs. There is a familiar charm to Boeckner’s writing. It’s always served as an appropriate counterweight to Krug that helps keep Wolf Parade effective.
“In the Direction of the Moon” is one of the highlights of the album for me. A relentless keyboard part keeps the song going all the way through. I see huge potential for this to be the first Wolf Parade song to get sampled. It could be totally sick. “Ghost Pressure” follows with what is the most party ready song on the album. It was one of the first songs released to the pubic before the album came out, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since then.
Expo 86 winds down with “Yulia”, which sounds a little too similar to track two (“Palm Road”). I would make a bigger deal of it if they weren’t both great songs. The last hurrah is “Cave-o-Sapien”. I’m pretty sure this is the silliest song Wolf Parade have written. The is a line towards the end of the song that reads, “I had a vision of a gorilla, and he was a killer! A Killer!” It’s crazy, but makes for a great closer that sums up the tone of the album pretty well.
Expo 86 isn’t like Apologies to the Queen Mary, but does it really have to be? Would you rather listen to something that was contrived and pointless or a great album by a band that wanted to do something they would enjoy? There isn’t a song like “I’ll Believe in Anything”. You wont hold your best friend and sing the lyrics to them in the most earnest and loving way possible, but you will give them a high five and ask where the beers are.