For a band that only formed six years ago, Wand haven’t wasted any time since their formation. We’ve had a release from the LA outfit every year since 2014 that has seen them progress from fuzz rock hopefuls to the fully fledged psych-pop voyagers they are today.
‘Laughing Matter‘ is most definitely Wand’s most ambitious project so far, clocking in well over an hour with 16 new tracks to get stuck into. Naturally, the five piece take us down many avenues across the track-listing but for the most part this is a continuation from the cosmic indie rock of previous LP ‘Plum‘. But with an album being at this length, it does flicker between straight forward pop moments to more drawn out, expansive pieces.
It’s quite a trick to be able to pull off writing a breezy little indie tune but also know how to captivate a listener through huge sprawling epics. ‘Airplane‘ is the nine minute centrepiece here that sees keys player Sofia take the lead through a laid back bass line. The melody locks you in but it’s the layers of guitars and synths that keep you there, fully engaged in this bewildering piece.
Although I do enjoy these more blissful yet widescreen moments, I tend to favour when the band trim the fat a little and it’s tracks like the fuzzed up ‘Walkie Talkie‘ and the beautiful ‘Thin Air‘ that really steal the show for me. I must admit, I miss the three minute howlers that were all over their earlier material, but there is no denying the beauty in the dreamy-psych tendencies they’ve developed; ‘Hare‘ and ‘Rio Grande‘ have come at a perfect time, acting as the most spot on sun basking soundtrack.
Something that came to me when listening to Plum was the little nods to 90’s era Radiohead, especially in the guitar melodies. On this record, frontman Cory does give quite a convincing latter day Thom Yorke impression in the vocals, which certainly suits some of the records dreamier moments. It’s pretty hard to pull off a Thom impression without sounding like you’re taking the piss, but Cory seems very comfortable in his vocals abilities and it seems like a very natural way of singing, subconsciously taking queues from King Yorke.
My thoughts on ‘Laughing Matter‘ are similar to what I thought of Ty Segall’s mammoth effort ‘Freedoms’ Goblin‘; when it’s good, it’s excellent and you can’t help but bathe in the brilliance of the songwriting and performances. But it’s the length of the album that puts me off a little with some of the experimental tracks stunting the flow of the albums prominent moments. But I understand that this is the sound of a band throwing it all in and discovering new sounds whilst adding on to their foundations. It’s this approach that makes me think their masterpiece is just around the corner, therefore meaning that ‘Laughing Matter‘ is a solid stepping stone into greatness.