Wand – Mt. St. Helens

This album is a masterpiece. It maintains the cantering wildness of the (né) First Nations records, while expanding the structure and instrumentation substantially. Janzen’s voice moves up in the mix, the arrangements are daring — sometimes challenging but always captivating. It is a record full of infectious synth, cheeky guitar, smooth saxophone hooks, heavy beats, violent lyrics.

The true genius of this record lies in the percussion. There is a tribalism in the swirling arrangements and steady pound of the drums and the programmed beats. It is this careful balance between the electronic and organic that is at once unimaginable and completely natural to the listener. The last few times I saw Wand play, in Edmonton and at Landisfest, the percussion stuck such a chord with my body — I danced and swayed, swept up in the ebb and flow of the record.

There is an intrigue in the long tracks, but it is the pop sensibility of the shorter ones that catch my ear the first few times through — “Beach People” or “Where Did All The Light Go Now,” the latter a climax for the prevailing theme in the record. These are the entry points, but the best experience comes from a full submersion.

This album might be a masterpiece, but there is another thought here — what if this album is not a culmination but a graduation? This is a band in full stride, one to pay close attention to.

Stay tuned for the physical release. For now, buy the digital and listen to it loud.

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