Marina Tadic possesses one of the more enchanting voices you’ll hear, and not for some mastery of pitch or phrasing, or any other measurable barometer other than what amounts to “having it.” It’s a secret weapon of sorts, but on Eerie Wanda’s debut album Hum, it wouldn’t mean anything if that voice weren’t surrounded by good songs.
Luckily, this is the case.
The band began as a solo project for Tadic, a Croatian/Dutch singer/songwriter, and blossomed following hooking up with Jasper Verhulst and Nic Niggebrugge of Dutch pop-wiz Jacco Gardener’s band. After convening in a Cold War-era bunker in Vondelpark, Amsterdam, to track the record, the magical muses seemed to be set to bring Tardic’s songs to the world.
“Happy Hard Times,” the album’s opener, sounds like it should have been the demo for a sweeping baroque-pop masterpiece ranting on about the throes of elation found in the dregs of despair. Instead, it’s a pretty little song sung in nursery rhyme-cadence, somewhat nightmarish in its innocence if it weren’t so lovely. The secret there, again, is Tadic’s vocals arriving in just the right timbre to affect a song’s darker impulses to sunny themselves up.
A majority of the songs on Hum come steeped in rock ‘n’ roll tradition, slugging along slowly in familiar, yet skewed, avenues of sound. On “Mirage,” a spare progression ambles along with a loopy little lead that throws you off the scent of its shambling self-awareness. Here Tardic swoops in with dreamy revelations, cooing “She went away to a fun land/never heard from her again/followed the plan she had for years/troubling lies, troubling fears.” If every song on Hum sounds like a daydream, this one excels in peddling a practically narcotic spell.
Later, the peppy single “To Dream Again” sounds like an entirely different band, a driving backbeat lead by solid bass and drums brings Tardic into new territory, her tenor flirting in a Go-Gos shiver during the verse before the song opens to a pure-pop chorus, Tardic playfully singing, “We can play my favorite song/I’ll dance until the stars are gone.” Similarly wistful moments can be found on the drawling “Angel Hair” or the Ronettes-on-molly title track, which somehow comes across like a lost score from a multiverse version of The Wizard of Oz. It’s not hard to infer a stoner-y wellspring from whence these songs may have been born.
But that high-times shortcut shouldn’t take anything away from Eerie Wanda’s debut. It’s full of chilled-out melodic fun and, awesomely, ends in a Dolores O’Riordan-like ditty that’s so goddamn catchy and endearing that I can’t believe I was able to stop listening to it to file this review.