In August of 2014 Ty Segall’s Drag City imprint label GOD? Records released Ganglion Reef, an out of this world psych rock odyssey by a then unknown Wand. Although Ty Segall’s influence/name was the main draw for Wand at first, listeners quickly began to appreciate the group’s ability to expertly mix pop hooks with an expansive arsenal of psych rock knowledge. In fact, the success of Ganglion Reef caught the attention of legendary garage rock label In The Red Records, who promptly released the band’s follow up Golem in March of 2015. Golem surprised fans of Ganglion Reef by putting a greater influence on the heavy aspects of their sound. Although the pop savviness of their debut was still prevalent, its sporadic use provided blissful moments amongst the dystopian sound of the album. Golem was a tour-de-force that some artists work towards their entire career, leaving many fans to question how they could progress or continue to evolve. Luckily, the group’s third album (first on Drag City, second this year) 1000 Days does an excellent job of showcasing the evolution of Wand, and continues to cement their reputation as one of the most interesting groups in a busy psych-rock scene.
1000 Days is the most interesting and potentially most fulfilling Wand album to date. The album acts almost as an antithesis to the magnificent Golem, thanks in large part to its generally laid-back atmosphere. Although there are a few moments which would not sound out of place on Golem (“Lower Order”, “Dungeon Dropper”), the vibe of 1000 Days is much more relaxed, so much so that it could almost be considered a ‘summer album’. The tonal shift is achieved mainly through a new outlook on instrumentation which features heavy use of synthesizers and acoustic guitars. The group touched on this conscious shift in aesthetic describing “searching in corners and finding extra texture via synthetic animation”. There are plenty of great examples of synths adding extra texture within the album, however the best is instrumental “Dovetail”, as it combines an almost tribal drumbeat with layered synths to create Wand’s most atmospheric song yet. Further, the prog-like “Broken Sun” does an excellent job of using synths to create an epic atmosphere which allows the final guitar solos to shine.
Another possible explanation for the tonal shift is the appearance of a greater range of influences, as there are songs with elements of folk, prog rock and glam. Although these influences may not have been completely vacant from previous Wand material, 1000 Days is the first album to really embrace the influences. The willingness to embrace influence leads to the biggest strength for 1000 Days, as the constant change in sound creates an album that never feels stale. The best example of 1000 Day’s impeccable pacing is the album’s final four song run beginning with lead single “Stolen Footsteps”. The incredibly catchy, almost entirely synth based psych-pop track leads into “Passage of The Dream”, which sounds like a sister song to the amazing “Melted Rope” from Golem. The laid back vibe of “Passage” is quickly forgotten however, as the Meatbodies influenced “Little Dream” acts as an interlude before the album’s wonderful closer. “Morning Rainbow” acts almost as a summary for 1000 Days, as it expertly combines all of the synth and acoustic elements throughout the album into the most complete Wand song in their catalogue.
1000 Days continues to prove Wand have earned their reputation as one of the most interesting bands currently working in music. The influence of garage rock mainstays Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees are still present within their sound, yet Wand are once again able to craft their influences into a completely unique and individual sound. Further, while they may not be able to completely match the cohesiveness of Golem, pacing and sequencing continue to be strengths of the band as 1000 Days works incredibly well as a complete album. The tonal shift might be jarring for long time fans, however the group’s willingness to embrace their influences and pop sensibilities allows for at times a more interesting, and at times more fun listening experience.