On “Hypnosis in Days”, the second track off of Wand’s most recent album Golem, lead singer Cory Hanson asks, “Which world is yours and which is mine?” It’s an excellent question. For much of Golem, Wand straddles the line between garage-rock and psych-rock. The fuzzed out power chords dominating many songs would seem to suggest garage (so would the Dick Dale-esque guitar line halfway through “Hypnosis In Days”), but the hazy vocals, synths, and the melodies all signal psych. The best moments on the album all occur when Wand is able to meld the two sounds, creating a simultaneously urgent and stoned brand of rock.
The album opens with swirling winds, signaling that we are entering a different world. The alien guitars over “Melted Rope,” the loud, crawling bug sounds that begin “Reaper Invert,” and the recessed, filtered count in on “Cave In” all drive the point home. The world of Golem is a disorienting one. Each song, with the exception of “Melted Rope” (easily the best track on the album with its restrained jam and alien vs. acoustics juxtaposition) is driven by loud, pounding power chords. Combine those chords with drummer Evan Burrows’ frenetic attack and the surging lead guitar lines of Daniel Martens and you have an aurally overwhelming assault.
Most often, the onslaught is merely good. The chords seem a bit lazy and occasionally the melodies, carried by Cory Hanson’s Tame Impala-like delivery can seem similarly ill conceived. When Wand really gets going however, it’s a thing of beauty. During the jams on “Floating Head” and “Melted Rope,” they abandon the power chords and really let their musicianship shine through. These guys can play. Look no further than Hanson’s vocal delivery on “The Drift” or Marten’s guitar work on “Floating Head”, or, most importantly, the most devastating moment on the record, the insanely well executed drum explosion at the end of “Planet Golem.”
There are plenty of excellent pieces on this album to make it worthwhile. Ultimately though, the brilliance of the better parts are dragged down by the unimaginative, sloppier elements (the reliance on power chords, the boring melodies). If Wand could consolidate their sound and really focus on what makes them great, then they could produce a truly excellent album.