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Stream M. Ward’s ‘Wasteland Companion’

M. Ward, 'A Wasteland Companion'
Merge Records

It won’t be out until April 10, but if you just can’t wait that long to wrap your ears around M. Ward‘s new album ‘A Wasteland Companion,’ NPR has just the stream you’re looking for.

It’s the second step in a promotional campaign that kicked off a few weeks ago, when Ward debuted the album’s leadoff single, the gently rollicking (for him, anyway) ‘Primitive Girl.’ Most indie artists don’t enjoy this sort of pre-release buildup, but Ward isn’t just anyone: he’s spent the last few years touring the world with the adorkable Zooey Deschanel as half of She & Him, not to mention chipping in as a member of the indie supergroup Monsters of Folk.

Speaking of Deschanel, she chips in on ‘A Wasteland Companion,’ lending her distinctive backing vocals to the single-in-waiting ‘Sweetheart.’ But She & Him fans shouldn’t expect a full-on reprise of that duo’s sunny, nostalgic sound; on ‘Companion,’ as on his earlier solo efforts, Ward keeps things mostly mellow and very dusty, using fuzz guitars and acres of reverb to create a unique sound that offers a sort of skewed cross between Sun Studio and an alien transmission from a distant planet.

All told, it’s vintage Ward: A sweetly melancholic record, boasting deceptively simple, finely layered arrangements, and — at 36 minutes and change — short and to the point. But don’t take our word for it — stream the whole thing at NPR and judge for yourself.

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