By Maria Schurr
Wand are affiliated with Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall (Golem was released on the latter’s God? label) but the first comparison I drew through listening to their second release was a super stoner, heavier Tame Impala. This could just be a superficial comparison, as Wand lead singer and guitarist Corey Hanson’s vocal style is pretty close to Kevin Parker’s. There is maybe a bit of Segall’s Manipulator in here as well, but Wand seem to merely be skirting glam where Segall went for it full throttle. Golem’s pacing suggests Wand gave glam a valiant go, as opener “The Unexplored Map” attests, but quickly abandoned it for a game of Magic: The Gathering (in which all manner of golems can be found).
That probably sounds like a terrible, terrible diss, but Golem still seems like a hip release (thank the Segall association and the growing heavy psych trend for that). Golem’s highest decibel psych vibes somehow never plod and the songs never feel punishingly heavy. The standout breather moment “Melted Rope” serves as one of the album’s highlights, an easy, breezy groover that centers the listener before dropping them into the album’s ultra sludgy second half.
Songs like “Flesh Tour” go a bit overboard with the Sabbath vibes, but it could certainly be worse. The album’s closing two tracks,“Planet Golem” and “The Drift,” wander the farthest into sludge and probably sound awesome through any speakers that are not a laptop’s. I’ve no doubt Wand are insane live, and sometimes this sort of loud, heavy psych that is so fun to trip out to among friends can be hard to translate into a solitary listening experience. With Golem, Wand have done a valiant effort of this, even if it sometimes brings to mind a bunch of stoned guys pretending to be wizards in a mildewed basement.