Wand, “Perfume” EP

Wand
Perfume EP
DRAG CITY
7/10

In the hierarchy of contemporary West Coast psych rock acts who’ve crossed over to something like moderate success, bands like Meatbodies and Wand fall directly below Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, clinging to the bottom rung of relevance over a vast swath of interchangeable noisemakers. For any blog grazer and festival frequenter satisfied with the yearly surpluses supplied by the garagehold names of Segall and John Dwyer, there’s no need to dive deeper into the broader canon of collaborators—but for those in the know, contributions from the Chad Uboviches and Mikal Cronins behind the scenes and behind the mic are just as vital to the movement.

Despite banding in a time of diminishing national interest in their scene, Wand continue to solidify their distinctive personality on every release since their charismatic debut in 2014. With an average of one release every year since then, the LA-based power-psych quintet have chosen to also share their personality through constant touring. And though there’s no discernible centerpiece to their live show, there is a focal point: vocalist, guitarist, and synthesist Cory Hanson (himself a former Meatbody, at one point also together with Pangea) wilding out in the corner, a skeletal figure in all black recalling in equal parts Jack Skellington and the rat from Fantastic Mr. Fox. While their output isn’t nearly as varied as the infinite spectrums of Segall and Dwyer, it’s hard to deny the personality of Hanson and company, which flails through every single track they crank out—even once it’s rendered inanimate by wax.

On the heels of their spacious, dreamy Plum LP, the group has returned with an exceptionally Wand-ish EP that neatly encapsulates their aroma, aptly titled Perfume. Though their experiments continue in the mediums of longform and interlude on the seven-and-a-half minute opening title track and on the atmospheric “Hiss” and “Train Whistle,” respectively, “Town Meeting” paints a vivid portrait of Hanson (or his surrogate, Sofia Arreguin, the latest addition to the Wand family) pounding all the right wrong keys, as “Pure Romance” most sufficiently and eloquently describes the band’s paradoxical situation within the past and present simultaneously.

Outside of “Pure Romance”’s insistence on shelling out an exorbitant sum for long-term mental real estate, Perfume does little besides bolster the staying power of Wand as a rare contemporary rock band unwilling to forfeit their persona to suit the present. But as animated figures to spend time with, you could certainly do much worse. 

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