When an artist bio is created keywords are selected for searches. Wolf Parade's keywords are Modest Mouse, Brock, Boeckner, Krug and Apologies To The Queen Mary. Here's why.
Assembling in '03, Montreal's Wolf Parade, guitarist/vocalist Dan Boeckner, keyboardist/vocalist Spencer Krug, synth/keyboardist Hadji Bakara and drummer Arlen Thompson had all done serious time on the local music scene. Among the more notable efforts were Krug recording as a solo and touring with Frog Eyes and Thompson contributing the drum track on Arcade Fire's "Wake Up." In fact, Wolf Parade's first gig was opening for the aforementioned Arcade Fire.
A self-released EP caught the ear of Modest Mouse guitarist/vocalist Isaac Brock who brought the group to Sub-Pop. Brock then took the group to Portland, OR, to record much of Wolf Parade's '05 self-titled EP and full-length debut "Apologies To The Queen Mary" (which contained a couple tracks from the EP).
It can be difficult coming up with a suitable album title. Groups often name an album after themselves - but usually that's reserved for their debut. If they continue down that road they are either forced to add a Roman numeral ("II") or their fans must come up with their own identifier (the blue album, the green album, and so on). Another route is to use the title of a single from the set. That way the album is inexorably tied to a known, and hopefully, popular track. Then of course, some bands just pull it out of the air. That's more or less what Wolf Parade did with their full-length debut and they were headed down that trail again. But even that had its challenges. The first shot at a title for their sophomore effort surfaced nearly 9 months before the album was released when "Pardon My Blues" was suggested. Months later it appeared, "Kissing The Beehive" had been selected. Too bad that was already the title of a Jonathon Carroll book. With copyright infringement concerns prevailing, the title became "At Mount Zoomer," which arrived in mid-June, '08.
Cities often host a World's Fair in an effort to put themselves on the map. Expo 86 was viewed "by many as the transition of Vancouver from a sleepy provincial backwater to a city with global clout." Titled "Transportation and Communication: World in Motion - World in Touch," the Canadian Expo featured 54 pavilions and drew 22 million people, including all five future members of Wolf Parade. So naturally, the band named their third album "Expo 86."
But for this effort the band worked as a quartet. Bakara left to pursue a doctorate degree in English Literature at the University of Chicago. To fill the gap, Boeckner and DeCaro played keyboards and bass during the album's two-week recording session. "All the songs and arrangements are really, really dense," said Boeckner. "And it sounds like a band playing live."
Released in late June, '10, "Expo 86" topped the College Radio Albums chart just a few weeks later.
Wolf Parade, thanks to the abundance of keyboards and haunted themes, often sound like a demented carnival. They have two lead singers which gives the songs stylistic variety. Krug has a '80sWave/Bowie feel while Boeckner is more mainstream. "Apologies To The Queen Mary" opens with Krug's choppy Rocker "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son." Boeckner's ethereal "Modern World" follows. That pattern continues through the CD. "Grounds For Divorce" ratchets up the energy. "Fancy Claps" with the expected hand claps between catchy guitar and keyboard riffs and the anthemic '80s influenced "Shine The Light" keep it going.
"At Mount Zoomer" is a collection of melodic songs enhanced by inventive arrangements that accent the lyrics. Each song is kind of a set piece. It's a thoughtful, largely midtempo album that is apparently designed to have listeners sway to the music rather than jump up and down.
"Call It A Ritual" is a plodding piano piece that uses distorted guitar to give it a push. Fortunately, it's followed by the pulsating "Language City." "Bang Your Drum" and "The Grey Estates" have enough drive to get across. Even with all the clever touches two songs make an immediate impression thanks to the guitar work - the hypnotic "Fine Young Cannibals" and the slashing "Kissing The Beehive"
Had the Talking Heads decided to go power-pop (highly unlikely given the band members' tastes) they would have sounded like "Expo 86." Rhythmically augmenting the bass and drums are some tight synth riffs. The reverb guitars ring like distant thunder. It works exceptionally well on "Little Golden Age," "Oh You, Old Thing," which manages to dent The Cars, and the brilliant "Ghost Pressure."
The kicker is set closer "Cave-O-Sapien." No doubt Dave Edmunds wishes he'd done that one.