Baltimore duo Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak bring a palpable male/female interplay to their sometimes sweet, sometimes raucous indie pop/rock, but this feels different and dramatically more daring than most X and Y musical collaborations. Wye Oak's no-frills, no feedback-fearing and noise-littered songs may drive on the shoulder now and then with what might sound like barely controlled abandon but the overall effect has a certain raw, cathartic majesty. You catch your breath and then move on to the next track, marvelling that you and the band are still in one piece.
Third album Civilian ( March 8, Merge), is a multi-textured, tightly wound excursion that excels in not only building tension but releasing it with a fierce, wry smile. Working for the first time with an outside engineer, Civilian expands the Wye Oak minimalism into what Stack calls "exciting and sometimes scary new territory", bristling and buzzing with loosely channeled energy. "The songs are," says Wasner, "as a whole, about aloneness (the positive kind), loneliness (the horrible kind), moving on, and letting go (of people, places, and things).” Civilian's lead title track sums up the Wye Oak musical mantra: a smooth sailing dulcet trip that steers boldly into a choppy, exhilarating storm of distortion and feedback.
Wye Oak - "Civilian" (from the album Civilian)
Wye Oak - "I Hope You Die" (from the 2010 EP My Neighbor, My Creator)
Pre-order Civilian from Merge here.