Wand: Laughing Matter (Drag City) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 19th, 2024  


Laughing Matter

Drag City

May 08, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Since their beginnings in league with Los Angeles garage greats Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, Cory Hanson and his compatriots in Wand proved themselves restless rock inventors. Though the fuzzier elements of their earlier work have never disappeared, Hanson’s songwriting in each successive album has felt like it’s bursting against its own seams, always in transit to somewhere whose path is blazed by rock traditions yet sounds undefinable. Wand’s new album Laughing Matter is the first one to sound like it’s arrived somewhere, content to spread out and explore.

That undefinable feeling is encapsulated right from the get go with track one, “Scarecrow,” a masterpiece. Its deliberate percussion, tuneful piano chords, and clangy guitar soloing sound like they’ve never been put in this kind of combination before. There’s something about this song that perfectly captures Wand’s ability to sound like there’s nothing they want to do more than burst into noodly psychedelic instrumental passages, but are holding themselves back with everything they have. This restraint serves Laughing Matter remarkably well, from the gorgeous and ethereal “High Planes Drifter” to the numerous ambient passages that dot the tracklist.

Laughing Matter is not a concise album like Perfume, the EP/mini-album that preceded it in 2018, or even Plum before that in 2017. It frequently dives into a psych-rock hole like a Wonderland-bound Alice, “seeing the world spin ‘round,” as keyboardist/vocalist Sofia Arreguin intones on “Airplane,” a late-album highlight. Where Plum, for instance, felt almost too slight at 10 tracks and 42 minutes, Laughing Matter adds a whole five more songs and 25 extra minutes. This is a good thingwith their track record, a heftier Wand album could never be wrong for its indulgencebut it can be hard to digest the whole record in a sitting without zoning out during some of its spacier stretches. Still, Laughing Matter is once again a huge leap forward for Wand, who are on pace to become one of America’s best unsung rock bands. (www.wand.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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