The Lineup

Wye Oak

Baltimore, Md.

The eddies and swells of Wye Oak mimic the slow builds and unresolved tensions of post-rock, though the tones are warmer and the angles softer. One of the driving elements seems to be pace; if most bands write in days, this Baltimore duo writes in seasons, with dynamic elongated vistas that range from spare wintry moments to vibrant blooming springs, pretty laconic summers to foreboding autumnal darkness.

This slow atmospheric churn is greatly buoyed by the husky, hollow croon of Jenn Wasner. While she brings some very pretty melodies to life, her willowy vocals are frequently a distant haunting echo amid a churn of guitar, keyboards and drums. “Wait,” you’re saying, “you mentioned three instruments. You don’t mean at the same time?” Indeed, one of Wye Oak’s visual perplexities is watching drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack do his thing, right hand and foot bossing the rhythm while his left handles the keys.

The duo formed a half-dozen years ago and, after self-releasing their 2007 debut, If Children, were signed to Merge. As solid as the re-released If Children and 2009’s The Knot were, they paled next to last year’s Civilians. Like television versus cinema, their third album is a rich, widescreen tapestry lined with sound and driven by Wassner’s dramatic, nuanced delivery.

If you’ve witnessed them bringing these songs to life during a nearly non-stop year of touring, your expectations for their next release are rightly heightened. There’s not a single band that really emerged last year that can match the in-the-room crackle of this duo. Get a drink. You might want to sit down.—Chris Parker