I don’t know why it took me as long as it did to check out an album by singer-songwriter M.Ward. I enjoy both his work with Zooey Deschanel in the band She & Him and his work in the supergroup Monsters of Folk. A Wasteland Companion is M. Ward’s seventh album and it does bear a lot of resemblance to his songs with those other groups, maybe even too much. Wasteland sounds like half of the songs here could of been done with Monsters of Folk and the other half with She & Him and I was really hoping for something different.
M. Ward’s songs shift between folky and 60s style pop. I can hear that Ward is trying to diversify, but I would much rather have either a folk album or a pop rock album. I don’t feel like there’s any real direction here other than “I’m just going to throw together all the songs I haven’t used yet for my other projects.” Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice songs but some fairly forgettable ones as well.
I like M. Ward’s breathy vocals and laid-back disposition, apparently the only disposition he’s capable of. I just wish Ward would stop relying so heavily on Zooey Deschanel. Of course Zooey Deschanel sings on a couple songs that sound exactly like She & Him songs. If I wanted to listen to She & Him, I’d be listening to She & Him. It’s crazy that even on an M. Ward solo album I still feel like I’m listening to some kind of group or collaboration.
A Wasteland Companion is fine, but in the grand scheme of indie pop forgettable. Next time I’d like to see M. Ward focus most heavily on his 60s style songs, at least that’s what I like hearing him do the most. At least I now have a general idea of what he’s all about, so there’s one mystery solved.
Favorite Tracks: “I Get Ideas”, “Me and My Shadow”, “Primitive Girl”