Flock of Dimes

If You See Me, Say Yes

Partisan

Sep 22, 2016 Issue #58 - The Protest Issue Bookmark and Share


Jenn Wasner is best known as the frontwoman of Baltimore indie-rock duo Wye Oak, but over the last few years, she's demonstrated a tendency to transcend genre and other limitations. In 2012, she teamed with songwriter/producer Jon Ehrens as Dungeonesse to release a self-titled album of effervescent dance-pop, even though her main band's previous album (2011's breakout Civilian) was a dark, meaty guitar-rock masterpiece. Even Wye Oak's last two releases have been wildly evolutionary; Shriek saw Wasner move from the guitar to the bass and was firmly steeped in soulful R&B instead of rock, while this year's Tween is a snapshot of the transition period between the two styles. And now, Wasner is finally releasing her debut full-length as Flock of Dimes, the solo project she started in 2012. If You See Me, Say Yes contains her richest songs yet; it's a triumph.

If You See Me stands out firstly because it features more instrumentation than anything Wasner has done to date. While Wye Oak has mainly operated with drums/keyboards and guitar/bass, and Dungeonesse utilized traditional electronic dance-pop sounds, Flock of Dimes is free to cover 2016 indie-pop's whole spectrum of tricks, complete with programmed electronics, guitar flourishes, piano motifs, and even pedal steel (on the bright, cheery "The Joke"). Each song has its own aesthetic and flavor, yet collectively they form a cohesive album, the tracklisting taking listeners on a journey, whether back home (as on the gorgeous "Birthplace") or forward to new places ("Everything is Happening Today"). Lyrically Wasner is in top form too. She examines distance in relationships on lead single "Semaphore": "I can tie my own laces/Find the solace I seek in other places/But I cannot need you more/Too far gone for the semaphore." The album's hypnotic middle section peaks with "Flight," and a theme becomes clear. This is an album of exploration, of meaningful examination, and above all, of self-discovery.

It's fitting, then, that this album comes shortly after Wasner's relocation from Baltimore to North Carolina; that her primary band Wye Oak has released an album in 2016 and already has another one on the way; that a year in flux, both for the band and really, for everyone, sees this release. In context, If You See Me, Say Yes, is the perfect soundtrack for all this growth and change. But even out of context, it's a refined work of indie-pop beauty ready for road trips or daily life, provided listeners are hopeful and curious enough to appreciate it.  (www.flockofdimes.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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