Under Review: Wye Oak – The Knot

Talk about duos making unusual music. The Baltimore-based Wye Oak (named for a notable tree in Maryland) debuted strong with If Children, a hazy mix of psychedelic country and classy dreampop atmospherics. With their new album, The Knot, they don’t deliver the same kind of compelling set, which is less of an insult as you might think. One of the most noticeable changes is the significantly smaller vocal contribution from drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack. On If Children, Stack and guitarist Jenn Wasner’s interplay made for a very Hazlewood/Sinatra feel. While that element’s abundance is certainly missed, there is plenty else on The Knot to pull your attention away from it. Squalls of feedback and noise intertwine with country twang on “Take It In,” the album’s preview track. Lovely strings swell across “Siamese” and “I Want For Nothing,” and “That I Do” features an unusual, march-like time signature. Unfortunately, most of The Knot breezes by with grabbing a hold of the listener in the way If Children did. The duo has gotten into a bit of a groove, but they don’t let loose nearly as often as they did on their debut. It’s a bit unfair of me to draw so many point-by-point comparisons between The Knot and its predecessor, but for a band that has delivered a sophomore effort so quickly, I feel the need to question how much time was spent on making this record. I commend Wye Oak for making music that needs to be made to keep the musical cosmos in check. However, I must scold them for doing it almost too well.


~ by E. on July 22, 2009.

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