Wye Oak

The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs

Merge

Apr 05, 2018 Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett Bookmark and Share


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Some bands do exactly what you expect, while others seem to slip away on an entirely unexpected course. Then there's Wye Oak, active for over a decade, who manage to bring life to Donald Rumsfeld's known unknown fable.

Baltimore duo Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, friends since they were high school age, come with a pimped out folk sound that's served them across five previous albums, if we include 2016's Tween which collected and reworked unreleased material from records number three and four.

Wasner and Stack have demonstrated how accomplished they can be with a simple guitar and drums sound, then they've ditched it to amp up bass and synthesizers, then come back again to package it all together. The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs is a continuation of this re-packaging, folksy melodies moving off on wavy dream pop currents.

The most interesting element is the rise and rise of Wasner the singer. Previously, her voice tended to sit in the shadows, practically serving as backing vocals. Then she began to launch herself forward, and now she seems capable of both, often in the same song. "It Was Not Natural" finds her channeling echoes of Martha Wainwright, starting a run of tracks that showcase her flexibility. It segues into "Symmetry" where she bounces along on Stack's synths, and "My Signal," a one-minute 37-second display of how far she's come.

But if anything captures where they are now, it's "Say Hello," melding their distinct talents into something full of compulsion and yearning, riding breathless vocals and persistence rhythms.

Wye Oak remain a curiously underheard band. Whether their sixth album will change that is an open question. What is not up for debate is that those lucky enough to know them, are very lucky indeed. (www.wyeoakmusic.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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