By Ché Salgado
We’re a little slow to the draw here, despite being released in February, Mats Wawa’s Classics EP has only just been dropped in our “CDs for review” box. But that’s just as well because frankly, this is music made for summer. Though the band hails from Norway, of all places, Mats Wawa isn’t about burning down churches. No, with their debut release, the band introduces itself as one preoccupied with elastic, clean, Mac DeMarco-esque guitar tones and swirling organ sounds. This sort of stuff may be in fashion these days, sure, but Mats Wawa is clever enough, inventive enough and silly enough to avoid looking like some new-psychedelia poseurs, a precarious genre anyhow, with the best of it actually invoking the source material of the middle and late 60s, and the worst of it ending up seeming saccharine and eye-roll inducing. No no, none of that’s present on this Classics EP. In fact, it seems to be one of the best neo-psychedelic pop records that’s been put into our hands in a while, despite being only thirteen minutes long.
There are two great things neo-psychedelia can achieve. The first is the ability to invoke the original 60s sounds. The second is the ability to take the genre’s roots and original sounds and blend them with contemporary sounds so that each facet of the music is informed by the other. These are tricks that Mats Wawa are able to pull off on every song here.
On the opener, using a swirling organ, fuzzed-out, flanged-out guitar, all elements found on the ancestors of these songs. The next two tracks, “Worries” and “Planet of the Grapes” are where allegations of Mac DeMarco-dom come into play, or at least allegations of influence coming from post-2010 breezy, “fun in the sun” bands. Just listen to the intro, the riff, the tone on “Worries” this is what’s meant by “blending,” taking those original sounds and having them coexist with more contemporary tones. Just listen to 13th Floor Elevators, those records are filled with fuzzed-out, distorted guitar tones, this record certainly isn’t but it’s still something we recognize as “psychedelic” because it’s able to invoke the 60s without copying outright the formulas and set-ups of those original bands. This is why this EP is a prime example of neo-psychedelia just as much as the bands out in Perth are, the record is able to invoke the sounds and associations of psychedelia without using the 60s sounds as a crutch, an easy pass to invoke psychedelia.
It’s impossible to know what’ll come of Mats Wawa, if they’ll only ever be a band confined to recognition only by those in-the-know or if they’ll achieve whatever it is they’d like to achieve, what is known though, is that at this present moment, Mats Wawa deserve more: more listeners, more recognition, more Facebook likes, money, what have you. Listen to this record. Buy this record. It’s probably cheap. It’s definitely worth it.