As genre names continue to become less and less relevant and we are bombarded with terms like “post-grunge-new-wave” and “retro-art-pop/rock,” one line that is a little less gray is that between pop and rock. A good pop record is supposed to be popular, thus its name. Rock, on the other hand, you don’t have to like, in my opinion. Along those lines, a good indie pop should be listenable to a large audience,while a good indie rock (there go those genre names again) band fits a smaller niche. That doesn’t mean it can’t be very good as well, mind you. Over the past couple years, bands like Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown have set the bar pretty high for their indie rockers, so Wolf Parade had some big shoes to fill. Unless, that is, you consider that Wolf Parade is just Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs and Spencer Krug of Sunset Rubdown and a couple other guys (sorry Thompson and DeCaro, you’re more than a bit overshadowed here). What Boeckner’s Handsome Furs excellent 09 release needed was a just little more substance while what Krug’s Sunset Rubdown needed was perhaps a little less. Wolf Parade are the perfect combination of the two. They cut out the crap, took out the trash, or whatever you want to say. They tidied things up for a record that allows them to live up to their basically-a-super-group status. Although I am a bit wordy myself, I am a fan of conciseness (see The Strokes for definition), one thing that Expo 86 is not. The 55 minutes tend to ooze by, but the quality of whatever is oozing generally makes up for the continuous five and six minute songs. An important thing to keep in mind is that Expo 86 is a rock record characterized by lots of guitars and some pretty hefty riffs, be it labeled indie-rock, post-grunge-punk-rock, or whatever. It will either be enjoyed and played until your CD scratches to death or immediately rejected and occupying space in your likely already full trash bin.
Either way, it’s a solid all-around record.