Foxygen’s new album sees the band taking an unexpected foray into symphonic orchestration. It’s certainly ambitious, but is it good?
To get a sense of what Wand might be up to on their newest album, 1000 Days, just look at the song titles: “Grave Robber;” “Sleepy Dog;” “Dungeon Dropper;” “Passage of the Dream;” “Morning Rainbow.” The song titles hint at the type of cross-genre work Wand is up to, a blending of psychedelic-pop and metal.
First track “Grave Robber” has a synth line ripped straight from the Legend of Zelda, a video game about elves, fairies and sword battles. At the 1:08 mark, the drums get faster and a metal guitar riff enters the picture. But just as soon as it enters, it disappears again. A minute later, it comes back. This sort of oscillating between heavier rock leanings and more jangly pop is at the centerpiece of what Wand is doing on 1000 Days. Nowhere are they more clear about this style than on “Paintings are Dead,” which starts off with clear-eyed, acoustic folk-pop, before jumping into the heaviest riff on the album, before switching right back, then back again, until finally, just before reaching the minute mark, the band combines the two.
They do allow themselves quieter moments as well, nowhere more so than on title track “1000 Days,” which, save for a lightly drummed outro, is all acoustic. The song, one of the more narrative on the album (which isn’t saying much), details the sweetly strange and fairly catchy story of “Cement Boy and Cement Girl, walking along in the sunlight.”
Wand is at their best when they are at their folk-metal weirdest, and the second half of the album loses some of that energy. After the seventh track, “Lower Order,” a hard-hitting Zeppelin meets White Stripes number, there are a few minor duds that lean toward unmemorable, fuzzed out, psychedelic rockers.
Only four out of the twelve songs on the album manage to get past the three minute mark, and, while I’m not advocating for epic, swirling jams, sometimes it feels like the songs end too early, before they’ve achieved what they set out to do. Given a little more room to breathe and develop, some of these songs could have reached more interesting places. »
– JP Kemmick