Psychedelic rock band Wand has released their fifth studio album Laughing Matter. Much to their dismay, the album is less amusing than it is complex, dark and introspective. Mayhem of instruments requires strategic discipline to make it work, and Wand pulls it off flawlessly.
The Radiohead-esque intro track “Scarecrow” hears Hanson sing with the same experimental desire and vocal range of Thom Yorke. The relentless quick-wit guitar-pick sound reverberates into wispy thin air, creating a space for Hanson’s soft-rock relic of a voice to seep in. “Scarecrow” introduces listeners to Laughing Matter by recklessly lulling them into a dark headspace as a psychedelic swirling sensation overcomes them.
Gliding guitar distortion kicks off “xoxo” with breathing room for creativity. Hanson’s soothing, but morbid lyrics adorn the track with rhythmic balance. Once the boundless static energy becomes jazz chaos, Arreguin’s gentle voice comes to the forefront, like singing in a vacuum unaffected by the instrumental backdrop.
Shoegazing, the genre of brilliant bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, was abandoned for radio-playable, money-generating pop music. Fighting for the carcass of shoegaze, Wand puts together downtempo tracks with introspective melodies and ravaging guitar with limitless volume. The collective efforts of Cory Hanson (vocals, guitar), Sofia Arreguin (synth, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass) and Evan Burrows (drums) result in a ridiculously talented band.
Hanson’s dreary lyrics in “Wonder” sing with playful integrity: “listen to this panic attack/ it’s screaming in your ear/ I’ve heard several other ones/ and they all sound just like this.” Although vocals are typically obscured in shoegaze, momentary glimpses into the poetic reality of a musician’s mind are worth an extra listen. Unless it’s the Cocteau Twins.
At nine minutes 12 seconds, the extended track “Airplane” drips slowly with fine-tuned chord progressions and ricocheting sound waves. Arreguin’s vocals on Laughing Matter will slow your heart rate with ethereal perfection, specifically on the dream-sequence track “Wonder II.” With a rippling harp-like melody, this downtempo track sets the tone for the closing track “Jennifer’s Gone,” and it is the band’s goodbye to an hour’s worth of musical mysticism.