Named for a World’s Fair that exposed the public at large to the monorail, a floating McDonald’s, and Einstürzende Neubauten, Expo 86 finds Wolf Parade harnessing a darker, nervy energy on their third album. While they dabbled with space on 2008’s At Mount Zoomer, Expo 86 feels like a more open album. With reverb-soaked guitars and atmospheric synths, Wolf Parade’s music heads into a gloomier place, evoking the more gothic side of post-punk while Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug’s jittery vocals create the necessary sense of tension and drama. While this is definitely a darker album, the fuzzy synthesizers help to give the songs warmth, preventing the album from becoming suffocating. On “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)” and “Ghost Pressure,” the deep buzz of Krug’s keyboards plays against the brittleness of the guitars to keep the songs from getting lost at the bottom of a trebly well. Expo 86 is more than just rainy day music, though. The album closer, “Cave-O-Sapien,” provides the album with a dynamic boost with a sound that’s uplifting in a desperate way, finishing out the album with a feeling that leaves the listener feeling like nothing was left back, that there’s no more gas in the tank, and the only thing left to do is turn off the lights on his way out.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney