Of the myriad acts now dabbling in psychedelia, most retain a sense of the present; they are reinventing the weird to some extent. No such contemporary concerns for Copenhagen’s The Wands, whose songs are soaked in Rickenbacker fuzz and Farfisa organ swells, whose videos contain traces of nudity and lava lamp, and whose lyrical proclamations range from “Let your freak flag fly” to “I softly drift through time and space” and, more worryingly, “My totem pole is aching”. Their singer, the nasal Christian Skibdal, makes it all sound like flower-power-era Spinal Tap fronted by Brett Anderson.
Yet while this Danish duo go large on the patchouli pastiche, ‘The Dawn’ is a gratifying listen, its enthusiastic acid-rock being more musically ambitious than many a standard garage act, banging home just how critical an influence the late-Sixties has been on all-ages indie. In fact, right from the fried-electric hippy-shake of opener, ‘Sound Of The Machine’, some dominant guitar playing lends weight to that Suede reference, while the perky ‘And Full Of Colours’ has more than a touch of scouse surrealists The Coral about it. The groovy swagger and savvy arrangement on ‘Totem Part II’ sounds like a dirtier version of John Squire’s Seahorses. Without John Squire, perhaps. Other numbers, such as ‘War’, with its sticky keyboard warp and wah-wah solo, is straight outta ’68, while ‘Circles’ underpins its psilocybin-pop with a shot of northern soul.
As if anticipating a comedown, ‘The Dawn’ lumbers to its conclusion with a trio of lustful, Floydian sub-epics. Skibdal is at it again on ‘The Name Of The Mountain’: “Magic beans and broken dreams/Nothing’s really as it seems… let’s go get it on”. The Wands’ preoccupation with free love, hallucinogenic imagery and technophobia may seem out of step with the mean-spirited materialism of our age, but their unashamed embrace of such frowned-upon fruits makes a success of this playful trip to the source of psyche.
Buy: The Wands – The Dawn