Wander • Home [LP]
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Home by Wander on 180g colored vinyl.
Released on March 18th, 2022.
We’re thrilled to announce the addition of this energetic young Californian quartet to the label. Despite most of the band still being in their twenties, Wander has been around for close to a decade now, getting their start as teenagers back in the early 2010’s before releasing their debut Mourning in 2014. Since then, they’ve made a name for themselves with their gripping blend of twinkly post-rock melodies and muscular, high-energy pacing. On Mourning, this could easily be seen in the back-and-forth of expansive, elegant ballads and scorching 3-minute bangers. Over the years they’ve learned how to marry these ideas more cohesively, most notably on “Eveleth,” the album closer on 2019’s March.
For as beautiful as their melodies have been, what continues to distinguish them is their dynamic percussion and tireless vibrancy. This undoubtedly begins with primary composer Ryan David Francisco, whose background as a drummer imbues every song with a unique vigor. His ideas are then translated impeccably through the enthusiastic performance of guitarists Christian Francisco and Bernard Barcela, and bassist Joseph Aguda. Anyone who has seen Wander live can tell you that the way they represent their music on stage has far more in common with frenetic punk shows than the typical post-rock presentation.
Home is yet another feather in their cap, with roots that travel all the way back to the band’s earliest days. Ryan Francisco notes that the driving concept of the record is the Bay Area they call home. Each track is meant to capture the atmosphere of the side-by-side cities of Oakland and San Francisco and represent the feelings the band associates with living there. Even the music itself stretches back years; Francisco says he wrote the central melody for “Moment” on ukulele only days before the band left for their first U.S. tour in 2016 supporting Mourning.
Everything else you hear on Home can be traced back to that ukulele, as Francisco made it a point to have each song’s genesis derive from the instrument. At first it was a concept borne out of curiosity, as the ukulele’s design led him to unique melodies he doesn’t believe he would have come to on guitar. Ultimately the ukulele became a welcomed challenge, as certain aspects that initially appeared to be limitations proved to be unexpected new inroads to ideas that otherwise may never have been explored. If you detect a breezy looseness, it may well tie back to another inspiration for this new record. The band got heavily into surfing during the writing process, and what’s heard on the album is influenced by the experience of giving oneself over to nature and riding the waves where they take you.
There’s a lot to unpack on Home. That word means so many different things to different people and comes with a full spectrum of emotions. But for as complex an idea as this has the potential to be, the beauty of the music is how fantastically uncluttered it is. It has an infectious, natural flow that’s easy to get behind, a blissful innocence and integrity that’s impossible to deflect, and a genuinely inspiring purity of performance. It’s a rare record that has a distinct complexity without being overly demanding of the listener. Your only responsibility is to close your eyes and follow the music where it leads you, and wherever that may be, you’ll be home.