Wolf Parade holds a special place in the Giant Panther’s heart, as one of the early indie rock bands of the 2000s that really got me into this genre. Along with other TGP early indie favorites The Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade was one of the first modern indie rock bands on my ipod, and remains there today, holding a coveted cluster of megabytes on my small ass 20 GB ipod hard drive. Most of my music has been long since swapped out, and sometimes forgotten about, but not Wolf Parade’s LP debut Apologies to the Queen Mary.
Wolf Parade is the perfect unlikely combination of two completely different songwriters at the helm, along with some of the other most talented musicians out there. Spencer Krug, one of the two lead songwriters, plays keyboards and sings like a mix of David Byrne, Gary Numan, and some otherwordly style I honestly can’t come up with a good reference for. Spencer’s style was what initially drew me to Wolf Parade what seems like decades ago now, probably due to the hints of Talking Heads I must have keyed in on. Lyrically a truly gifted songwriter, if you don’t believe me, read some of his lyrics. Sometimes his words may get a little distorted from the delivery or surrounding power of the instrumentation.
As Wolf Parade grew as a band, and grew on me, I started to really appreciate the other half of the musical Frankenstein brain, Dan Boeckner. Playing electric guitars, and singing with reckless abandon, I would put his vocal style somewhere amongst an extremely fired up Beck and Bruce Springsteen without the over the top dramatics (John will probably strangle me for that comment). After seeing Wolf Parade live for the first time at the Paradise in Boston, I really got just how important Boeckner is to this band. He adds fire (in no short part also due to the excellent Bonzo style drumming of Arlen Thompson). Boeckner’s songs at times have more of a straightforward rocking appeal to them when compared to the wild style Krug brings to the records, but they shouldn’t just be taken at face value, he’s equally an excellent song crafter, and when not on leads, he adds infinite value with his guitar parts in Spencer’s songs. Again, they could be considered rather simple guitar lines, but that is the sheer genious of them, doing so much more with less.
This is the true beauty of Wolf Parade, the back and forth trade-offs, and the small touches Boeckner adds with his guitar and Krug adds with his keyboards. Some bands rely on one primary member which really makes up the core of their existence, and would not function well with two major egos or superstars (such as the upcoming Miami Heat experiment), but not Wolf Parade. Rather than clash or butt heads, Wolf Parade simply could not exist without Boeckner and Krug together.
Confession time, after the side projects Wolf Parade members undertook including most notably Sunset Rubdown (Krug), and Handsome Furs (Boeckner), I think I started to get WP overload. Both made good songs, but they never worked as well as when they were together as Wolf Parade. Then they released their second LP At Mount Zoomer, and I just didn’t have the patience to sit down with that album and try to understand it. I gave it multiple listens, and every time I left feeling like I was missing something and generally confused. Some claimed it was pure genius, but to me an album shouldn’t feel like hard work to get through. Some albums draw your undivided attention, others insist that you pay attention to understand, At Mount Zoomer to me was the latter.
Expo 86 finds Wolf Parade in perfect form. It’s everything powerful and catchy that I loved about their debut, with a new layer of depth and even tighter track to track. There are no throw-aways or excuberent ten minute oddesseys on this album, each song clings to the next and this is truly a front to back album. These songs are all powerful, lush, and rewarding. I hadn’t scooped up Wolf Parade tickets for their Boston trip this time around, but that was before I heard Expo 86. Now I’ll probably have to pay an arm and a leg to get a hold of a few tickets. If you are new to Wolf Parade, you will find a lot to love with this album. If you’re a die hard Wolf Parade fan, this album is just what you could have asked for.
Download Expo 86 here
Wolf Parade on the web