Wasteland Companion, released next week on Merge, belies its foreboding title
and yields Ward’s most effusive effort yet. Listen to a track from the album, below.
By Lee Zimmerman
Things must be going well for M. Ward of late. Perhaps
underground stardom has finally caught up with him. Or maybe his partner in his
sometime side duo She & Him, Zooey Deschanel, has opted
to share some of her upbeat effervescence.
Whatever the reason, his new effort, A Wasteland Companion, belies its foreboding title, largely
eschewing the hushed introspection that’s cast a pall over previous efforts in
favor of, well, a sound that’s at least marginally more hopeful. To be clear,
nobody’s ever going to mistake Mr. Ward for the life of the party – not in a
musical sense anyway – but with tracks like the telling “Clean Slate (for Alex
& El Goodo),” the happy-go-lucky “I Get Ideas” and the casual strum of the
title track and “Wild Goose,” Ward appears to have let down his guard and
opened up to optimism.
He has some able assistance in this venture; Howe Gelb,
Bright Eyes” Mike Mogis, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley and Ms. Deschanel are all
on hand to add their talents to the varied sonic set-ups. Of course, some
turbulence is bound to remain – the uneasy sprawl of “Watch the Show” and the
unusually edgy “Me and My Shadow” guarantee that – but by Ward standards it
seems that A Wasteland Companion is
his most effusive effort yet.