“Civilian” – Wye Oak
I’ve entered a time warp, I’ve walked into a room full of people who I haven’t seen for years but the remnants of our conversations still linger and I’m safe. There’s a haunted jukebox at this party and it’s channelling the collective voices of The Pixies, Beach House and Modest Mouse. I’ll admit, this is a pretty rocking party.
Listening to the new album from Baltimore based duo Wye Oak is like wearing a jumper you find at the bottom of your wardrobe, at first you’re a little reluctant to wear it again, but once you persevere you’re rewarded with a sense of nostalgia that you can’t get from something clean and odourless.
The album starts tentatively with gentle refrains and washy vocals and you can clearly sense the influence of bands such as Beach House and Real Estate. But the album really comes into it’s own by track four. The neighbouring tracks ‘Dogs Eyes’ and ‘Civilian’ should be consumed as a double-punch, starting with snappy guitar and a persistent snare, and just when you think the track has died it brings a crescendo of distorted guitar and crashing cymbals that is sure to induce pensive head bobbing and air drums. It then moves into the title track, initially a folk track with soft, sweet vocals singing of remembrances and childhood; “I still keep my baby teeth, in the bedside table with my jewellery”. Truly the albums stand-out track it takes a turn when the drums roll in with whip-crack snare and a discordant solo that speaks of the discovery of youth.
Don’t be mistaken by the sweetness of lead vocalist Jenn Wasner’s saccharine tones, this album is a journey of misspent youth and clinging on to the fabric of childhood memories, but if you make it out the other side you’ll be reminded that life isn’t so scary after all if you have people by your side.
“If you should doubt my heart, remember this, that I would only lie to you if I believed that it was right to do”.
– Jonty Thompson.