If you liked Wand’s first four albums, their latest EP, Perfume, is an opportunity to figure out the kind of person you are – specifically whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. If you’re an optimist, you’ll note that the opening title track successfully combines the attack of punk and metal with the musicianship of prog-rock. You’ll also be impressed with drummer Evan Burrows, who’s comfortable playing complex rhythms without sounding like he’s showing off. You’ll also enjoy the psychedelic instrumental piece at the end of the track, which lasts about as long as the song-proper. “The Gift” will sound like the best song Radiohead left off their last two albums and “Pure Romance” will transport you back to that time in the ’90s when alt-rock dominated the musical landscape. Closer “I Will Keep You Up” ends it all on a sweet and tender note – like those world-weary space-ballads Spiritualized does so well.
Now, a pessimist will hear something completely different. They’ll find that these seven songs don’t form a cohesive whole. They’ll bemoan the recording, which is more lo-fi than the usual highly-manicured sound you get on a Wand outing. They’ll scoff at how much the title track sounds like Yes, think “Town Meeting” is a grating mix of VU’s “The Gift” and Bernard Herrmann’s music from the shower scene in Psycho, and they’ll call “Pure Romance” dated, and wonder how a song that comes out a few days after this review was published can already sound like an artifact from 1995.
The thing is, both sides are right. Perfume has some flaws that can’t be overlooked, but it has a lot of thrilling music too. Maybe it’s not the best thing Wand has ever done, but it’s still a more rewarding listen than most of what passes for “alternative” or “indie” these days.