Release Date: Apr 19, 2019
Record label: Drag City
Wand's last album, Plum, ended with a soft lull on Driving—the expansive blues-rock finale culminated into a spiritual finish. It also left some uncertainty as to which direction the LA quintet would go next, given that they'd been gradually abandoning their garage-rock beginnings. The result of this change is rather explicit on Laughing Matter opener Scarecrow—groove-inflected psychedelia alongside a fluid, tempered atmosphere.
The visual language of psychedelia is awash with tie-dyed skies and third eyes, but nothing is so psychedelic as emptiness. On their fifth album in six years, Wand demonstrate their understanding of this truth. Their first three albums came out in a neon blur, spilling over with ideas, but as they slowed down, their music opened up. They used the extra time between releases to subtract, not add, and Laughing Matter continues the band's elevation via excision.
Beginning in 2013 as a gnarly psych band with garage tendencies, Los Angeles' Wand quickly made several albums of weird and suffocating music. They ran with the quickly evolving scene that included Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, and bandleader Cory Hanson's songs fell into similarly scuzzy territory. A shift began in Wand's sound around the release of 2017's Plum, the first album from the group to reflect a new lineup and a new democratic approach to songwriting.