10 Apr 2016
Eerie Wanda – Hum
Reviewed by Shaun Rogan
Imagine if you will, the emergence of a new female talent that casts spells on you from the corner of your room, from your holy speakers. Imagine if she wrote a set of songs that refracted some prime influences such as Francoise Hardy, The Free Design, Wendy & Bonnie, Aztec Camera, Stereolab, Real Estate and Lush, as well as encapsulating her own psych-pop sensibility and melded them into something lovely and evocative. Imagine the feeling of wellbeing you would encounter being subjected to the aural equivalent of sitting on a balcony in Antibes and watching the sun slowly set whilst drinking ice cold margueritas.
You can imagine that? Well, brothers and sisters I am pleased to say you need imagine no longer as Eerie Wanda (aka Marina Tadic) is here to guide you safely and dreamily into the nocturnal hours, with this in mind, and all of the sonic resources required to make it a fun ride.
The correctly titled ‘Hum’ is an assured debut from Eerie Wanda, built on solidly constructed and fully realised songs and aided and abetted by the hand picked (Jacco Gardner affiliated) expert backing band at the disposal of the enigmatic Ms Tadic. The arrangements are breathy and often sparse, allowing a lovely separation of the instruments deployed, and as with much ‘modern psychedelic pop,’ the mood is woozy, somewhat blurred, occasionally shadowy but generally good natured. The more you allow yourself to be seduced by the songs held within, the more you sink under and into the world being constructed for you. As Syd once said, "one thinks of it all as a dream."
Opener, “Happy Hard Times” deceives somewhat with its minor key, rather ominous dirge-like bridge, sitting oddly against the rather fey and lovely verse, and is perhaps the closest Eerie Wanda come to giving me hypnophobia. The song does however set a template from which the remaining 12 songs can somnambulate into your consciousness in the most disarming way. Eerie Wanda are experts at candy coated insinuation, like your favourite cat who you know doesn’t love you quite ever as much as you want. And that is a cool trick to pull on any listener, instantly familiar, instantly keeping you at a distance – you can listen but you can’t touch.
This approach is exemplified by one of my personal favourites on the record, “New Harmony” a lovely affair with beautifully intoned vibrato guitar riffs and vocal incantations which combine in overall sonic effect to gently wrap itself around you and warm your heart but makes clear you will always be an observer, a listener and you should never interrupt. I would imagine people stand stock still at Eerie Wanda shows as they are covered by these songs, or maybe sway gently like flowers at the mercy of the breeze. Totally Grooved.
“Volcano Lagoon” sounds like a laid back version of ‘Brain Damage’ by Pink Floyd if it had been recorded in 1968 on the Left Bank, it's another huge winner, skating around the periphery of your senses, delicately balanced and always teetering on the point of being in focus but never fully getting there. A delight.
Much of ‘Hum’ gives an impression of assuredness, of a creator that could be slightly twisted but is happy, and if seemingly detached, then contented in being so. It’s a lovely zone to inhabit for some idle relaxation and a refreshing change from being instructed or implored as many songwriters do when bringing their work to your door. It’s nice sometimes to escape and ‘Hum’ does that. You hum the tunes you don’t want to learn the words – they are Eerie Wanda’s words not mine and she likes that just fine. As do I. I am her loyal servant and will do her bidding.
The title track is a slow pony trek across the open fields of your brain, by turn being ever so self-effacing and then flirtatious with the listener. Again it's all signatured with that lovely crystalline lead guitar which performs a beautifully understated break at its mid-point before sliding back into the vocals which are the centre of gravity at all times on this excellent debut. If Marina’s vocals are centre stage, the sympathetic guitar accompaniment is very much her partner in crime.
“To Dream Again” has an almost 1980’s New Wave feel to it with its slightly jerky rhythm, jarring your ears whilst the vocal lines cascade gently down around you. Again its impeccably restrained, deliberately, calculatedly restrained to create a precise mood in the listener. It’s a very refreshing approach that oozes charm. It makes me want to drink red wine and smoke Gauloises. Ace.
And so the courtship of the listener continues over the remainder of the record, voice and guitar often counterpointing each other; “The Reason” in a playful call and response, into the French disko of “Vinny” to the dreamy slightly unsettling hang-overture of ‘The Boy’ and concluding with the yearning adieu of “There Are Many Things” which leaves matters suitably unresolved and bittersweet as Eerie Wanda gently climb out of your bedroom window into the pitch black of night. You may be left pondering what has just gone before but it has most definitely been a lovely, lazy, carefree half-hour in the company of Eerie Wanda.
Maybe Eerie Wanda will drop by again? She knows I’d love to see her.
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