So Many Wizards - Warm Nothing
So Many Wizards handcraft their CD packages. Despite being in the 'digital age' of online consumption (and free consumption of that), this California band navigates their creativity to encompass even the most underappreciated spheres of the industry. The first two EPs Trees ('hand-crafted 100% one of a kind and made with love' according to their store) and Love Songs for When you Leave Me (the packaging 'doubles as a secret hiding place') were largely the creative efforts of Nima Kazerouni. After two years of writing 50s infected 'bedroom pop' songs about impending love, hearts forlorn and his beloved dog Nico, Kazerouni gave up his 'solo dolo' status and recruited former helpers, Erik Felix (drums), Geoff Geis (bass) and Frank Maston (lead guitar) as full time band mates.
As a result Warm Nothing is a sonic expression of the phrase 'strength in numbers'. It has strongly infectious melodies and strongly succinct production. But strength does not mean power over ones craft. So Many Wizards have upgraded from their melancholic 'bedroom pop' days but on the way have lost a little charm and individuality. Without a doubt, this LP has been made with love and shows maturity but claiming '100% one of a kind' status would be slightly disingenuous.
The opening track 'Never Wake Up' is a rapid affair. Kazerouni glides his breathy vocals through a 1-minute and 51 second deluge of impatient marching drums spread with a light layer of electrics. Though Warm Nothing is a 13-song affair, almost half the songs on it are less than 2 minutes. They make quick indie-pop reflective that reflect a tenor. 'Joshua (Kill Us Both)' is a stream of consciousness, delivered as if in the heat of conversation "you're gonna kill us both/you killed us both," quick and impatient, it is the perfect example of a well communicated story. It does not cease intensity even after the 5th listen.
Indeed, this development of communication is indicative of a general growth in confidence. With new members, So Many Wizards no longer gingerly limp about their songs. Instead they confidently strut through 'Best Friends'; Kazerouni has the buoyancy to sing a wispy falsetto ("I don't care what we do/as long as there's a park and bench for two") against Geis' forthright baseline.
Nowhere is So Many Wizard's maturity more evident in the closing track. Juxtaposing the tentative and almost nervous production, Kazerouni sings "Do what you want to do/say what you want to say/don't listen to the voices in your head." You're almost questioning whether he believes his own words or if he is so desperate to convince his lost love: "don't you know that I want you back?/don't be afraid to lose control." When he stops singing, the song glides into love's uncertainty, personified by a tentative bass and gentle drums that swim in an atmospheric pool of the electronic keyboard, ever so convincingly.
Yes, the production of Warm Nothing is forthright and confident. Sure, the balance of the lyrical and musical elements is near perfect. However, these positive beginnings have have a somewhat negative end. Anyone who has heard the slightly muted vocals of 'Gentle Creatures' on the first EP will first say the production is not perfect but the charm outbalances this. They still have some elements of their former 50s inspiration, 'In The Sun' is a perfect example, but the brand-spanking-all-decked-out new production can at times render the band as a mere pastiche of their contemporaries. After listening to 'Inner City' The Drums (too) quickly come to mind.
Kazerouni described himself as "hopelessly delusional but full of hope and courage," a quote from his favourite tale Don Quoxite (and inspiration to the band's name). Anyone who produces their first EP (and part of the second) alone in 4 bedroom walls and manages to distribute it to an audience wider than close family and household pets suffers from some delusion. With Warm Nothing, these delusions have paid off for the most part. The album is inescapably and enjoyably intense and shows maturity. But within this, So Many Wizards have lost some of the traits that made them endearing back when Kazerouni made bedroom music. But with respect, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. Most importantly Warm Nothing shows a band willing to change (with some drawbacks) and expand.