It’s hard to believe that the band who came flailing headlong out of the gate with Golem just two short years ago is the same band who’ve penned Plum, one of the most thoughtfully dynamic albums to come out in 2017. The creative arch of the Los Angeles band is without doubt rooted in the grime-y sonic sludge of the Ty Segall/Meatbodies/Mikal Cronin set. It would have been fine to have regarded them as yet another good band living under the punk-y parasol of the neo-psych-garage revolution.
The first thing you should forget about Wand may be the only thing you remember about them. The intoxicating Los Angeles quintet’s founder, Cory Hanson, has backed both Mikal Cronin and Ty Segall, vanguards of a pan-garage scene with which Wand has been linked from the start. On Wand’s first three records, recorded and released in a 13-month rush beginning in late 2014, the band invoked a similar musical mania, ping-ponging among subgenres with a teenaged enthusiasm that reflected the spirit of those contemporaries and mentors..
When I was younger, I always loved when cartoon characters would dream and a little cloud-shaped thought bubble would appear over them, giving us a brief look into the subconscious realm. Wand's Plum, an album also adorned with a cartoon blue cloud, feels similarly like it crosses the realm between reality and dreams, where ominous digital hisses become glittery piano and soft, jangly guitar morphs into catastrophe and back again.
The album begins with a minute of buzzing synth, reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack, that builds and ….
When Wand put out two albums in 2015, some suggested that the second of these, 1000 Days, was an unnecessary release of leftover songs from the first record, Golem. While 1000 Days was probably not their finest work, it did signal that change was in the air. And now with Plum, the Los Angeles band have decisively flown from the swampy psychedelic thud that defined them on their 2014 debut Ganglion Reef.