By Maria Coraza
Album: Laughing Matter
Release Date: April 19, 2019
Label: Drag City, Inc.
Wand is a five-piece psychedelic/rock band based in Los Angeles, California that formed in 2013. Lead by frontman Cory Hanson (voice, guitar), he is also joined by Sofia Arreguin (synth, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass) and Evan Burrows (drums). Wand embarked on their musical journey with the base of Corey’s primary songwriting as they eventually collided every members’ musical and conceptual contribution. Prior to Laughing Matter, Wand has released four other LPs including Ganglion Reef (2014), Golem (2014), 1000 Days (2015) and Plum (2017).
Laughing Matter’s opening track “Scarecrow” features bright winding guitars, clicky and snappy drums as well as curious sounding chords that set the base for the melody. At first, this track instantly reminded me of Radiohead’s In Rainbows. Part of the reason may also be Hanson’s voice sounding highly reminiscent to Thom Yorke’s. Wand’s lyrical storytelling is something so specific yet so vague at the same time. For example, their opening track “Scarecrow” describes the nature of a literal scarecrow with an eerie feeling. The lines “We are not afraid of you no more / The crows fly down from their nests / To steal the grain you can’t protect” at the end of the song paints the picture of being vulnerable to the dangers you thought have outsmarted or avoided.
Their second track “Xoxo” is another energetic track to accompany your wandering thoughts on a late-night car ride. Distinct sounds include the elastic computer sound being paired with distorted electric guitar as a tambourine jangles steady on the main beats throughout. The track develops complexity as the song progresses featuring mind-bending psychedelic breaks before slowly coming to a close. “Walkie Talkie” follows after as a sprightly tune that appears to be a little more pop-centric than the rest of the tracks while balancing its distorted psychedelia.
Ideas of nature and travel recur throughout Laughing Matters. The instrumental tracks “Bubble”, “Hare” and “Tortoise” present themselves as artful rock pieces that are also very experimental sounding. They seem to reflect nature in an unusual, yet amusing way. As the song titles suggest, they capture the magnificent floating translucency of a bubble, the playful bounciness of a hare, and the lazy leisure of a tortoise. “Airplane” features the lovely and lush vocals of keyboardist Sofia Arreguin backed with a crisp and soaring instrumental from the rest of the band. “Rio Grande” captures the same vibe with vivid lyrical imagery: “The rivers twist like spider silk around the stolen land / Your tears roll off into the sea and flood the Rio Grande.”
Laughing Matter is a lengthy 15-track LP that is worth the immersion and the adventure. Wand encapsulates psychedelic, rock, electronic as well as other influences into a final culminated Krautrock or noise music album. They also make for a stimulating ensemble that challenges your usual indie/rock palette.