Eerie Wanda - Pet Town - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Eerie Wanda - Pet Town

by Mark Moody Rating:10 Release Date:2019-01-25
Eerie Wanda - Pet Town
Eerie Wanda - Pet Town

Some artists just don’t know the right time to release an album.  Take, for instance, The Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA released in March.  Or Joni Mitchell’s perfectly wintry album Blue released in June.  That’s pretty mixed up, but in the Beach Boys’ case maybe it’s always Summertime in California.  Eerie Wanda, the alter ego of Netherlands based songwriter Marina Tadic, however perfectly timed the release of her sophomore album, Pet Town, in the dead of winter.  Even though the title track may convey a sunny disposition and hummable melodies abound, it’s the type of record that exudes a sleepy warmth.  One that you never want to wake from while the snow falls outside your window.  Better still if you are snowbound with that special someone, as long as they don’t disturb you listening to your music.

With release timing out of the way, what about the dreaded sophomore slump?  One fairly common thing for artists looking to freshen things up for their second albums to do is to fire their drummer.  Tadic did that, she just didn’t bother to replace them.  She has soldiered on with her bassist (Jasper Verhulst) and picked up a keyboard player (Jeroen de Heuvel) to accompany her guitar playing and vocals. Certainly not devoid of rhythm, drums are replaced by finger snaps, hand claps, and all other manner of making noise from nothing. 

The album starts off innocently enough on the title track with the chirp of birds, snap of fingers, ukulele strum, and Tadic’s smoky tenor.  Not really sure what ‘Pet Town’ is referring to with its call to “say what you say and go where you go”, but seems like solid advice.  The tambourine, hand claps, and insistent guitar line of the similarly non-sensical ‘Rockabiller’ (he’s her favorite by the way) three songs in becomes the musical point of no return. 

Pet Town’s charms are only beginning to be laid out.  There is a beguiling cabaret vibe to the record that is lifted by the faster-paced calypso beat of ‘Magnetic Woman’.  Not the next Marvel heroine, but rather an intricate clockwork of a melody put together to sing about a “fine, fine woman”.  My intro to Eerie Wanda was hearing ‘Moon’ which is a lush, romantic piece that has the nostalgic pull of watching the late night parts of Midnight in Paris.  The ironically titled ‘Sleepy Eyes’, given its lively rhythms, starts with a ‘Jailhouse Rock’ guitar riff that bursts forth into one of the more rocking tunes here.  Tadic “has no time for sunbeams”, but de Heuvel does bring in an ever-escalating organ part halfway through the song for no particular reason.  No reason, other than it was the perfect thing to do. 

The album closes strong and is short enough to queue up to repeat several times through.  Things even get a bit dangerous as Tadic beckons in ‘The Intruder’, which seems about as wise as inviting Roy Orbison’s candy-colored clown in for tea.  But an even greater peak is reached with the frenetic handclaps on ‘Hands of the Devil’ that recall the playground game ‘Mary Mack’, but also has Tadic “la la la”ing along while drinking the devil’s poison.  The last album I can recall that evokes the nostalgia of an earlier time, place, and temperature so well was Richard Hawley’s Lady’s Bridge.  Hawley’s album may have beckoned you out on to rain-slicked streets, while Tadic’s lets you stay indoors and watch what’s going on outside.         

Pet Town is the type of album that develops cultish fans or maybe is a blueprint for how an opioid addiction is formed.  The first taste is a bit strange if not so out of the ordinary to be a bit off-putting.  But repeated listens suck you in over the precipice into Eerie Wanda’s somnolent wonderland.  A song like ‘Moon’ will lure you in, but it’s the swirl of ones like ‘Magnetic Woman’, ‘Sleepy Eyes’ and ‘Hand of the Devil’ that will lock the door behind you and leave you hypnotized.  The type of record that will induce “what in the world are you listening to” from friends, but who needs friends anyway.  If I didn’t listen to any other album in 2019, I’d be perfectly content.  So leave me alone you sons of bitches, can’t you see I’m listening to my Eerie Wanda record again.

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