Wye Oak: Tween (Merge) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Wye Oak



Jun 22, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The latest release from Wye Oak, the project of Baltimore duo Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, is a brief collection of songs that did not make it onto 2011’s Civilian or 2014’s Shriek. Hence the clever title, Tween, referring to the fact that these songs exist somewhere in between these more official releases.

Of course, there is a long tradition in pop music of non-album song collections, like Modest Mouse’s Building Nothing Out of Something or R.E.M.‘s Dead Letter Office. Like those albums, Tween is remarkably full of songs that capture a kind of pure Wye Oak-ness that more deliberate releases obscure, and any attempt to attach them to previous records is futile. While Tween reveals a further glimpse into the process and creativity of Wye Oak, it is also completely understandable why the songs never fit their last two albums. These tracks are mostly deep cuts, with few melodies within its layers of post-rock instrumentation and dreamlike choruses. Make no mistake, this is actually one of Tween’s strengths.

The drawback of releasing these songs as a sidestep rather than on a proper album is that they will inevitably carry the distinction of existing outside of an already impressive body of work, and therefore likely overlooked as definitive Wye Oak tracks. And while intended to bridge the gap between Civilian and Shriek, the tracks more often betray their origins, and are not exactly cohesive enough to hold together as an album.

However, the compositional quality is unmistakable, down to the sharp guitar layers over ominously steady rhythm parts, to Wasner’s haunting vocals. It may not scream essential to anyone other than devotees, but for a collection of unused material, Wye Oak could do a lot worse. (www.wyeoakmusic.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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