Shriek by Wye Oak on Apple Music

10 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rolling Stone magazine noted that Baltimore is “becoming our nation’s hub for soft-focus synth pop,” citing groups such as Future Islands, Beach House, and Wye Oak as prime examples. This might come as a surprise to fans who remember Wye Oak from their previous album, 2011’s Civilian, where they kept themselves rooted in tradition with guitars that gave them a yin-yang of folk and shoegaze textures. But with 2014’s Shriek, the duo of singer Jenn Wasner and keyboardist/drummer Andy Stack have tossed the six-strings for full-time synths, and the pop aspect is just a natural output when melodies are as light as the ones heard on the title track. “The Tower” works with a fighting rhythm, but “Glory” surrenders to the automation that makes electronics work. Wasner’s vocals are the true standout here. Her flexible approach turns the usual arpeggiated arrangements behind “Sick Talk,” “Despicable Animal,” and “Paradise” into a world of goth, pop, and diva worship all into one. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rolling Stone magazine noted that Baltimore is “becoming our nation’s hub for soft-focus synth pop,” citing groups such as Future Islands, Beach House, and Wye Oak as prime examples. This might come as a surprise to fans who remember Wye Oak from their previous album, 2011’s Civilian, where they kept themselves rooted in tradition with guitars that gave them a yin-yang of folk and shoegaze textures. But with 2014’s Shriek, the duo of singer Jenn Wasner and keyboardist/drummer Andy Stack have tossed the six-strings for full-time synths, and the pop aspect is just a natural output when melodies are as light as the ones heard on the title track. “The Tower” works with a fighting rhythm, but “Glory” surrenders to the automation that makes electronics work. Wasner’s vocals are the true standout here. Her flexible approach turns the usual arpeggiated arrangements behind “Sick Talk,” “Despicable Animal,” and “Paradise” into a world of goth, pop, and diva worship all into one. 

TITLE TIME
4:19
3:39
4:06
4:53
4:25
4:14
4:50
4:21
3:44
2:59

About Wye Oak

Wye Oak, a Baltimore-based indie rock duo comprising Jenn Wasner (guitar, vocals) and Andy Stack (drums, keyboards, vocals), took their name from a symbolic 460-year-old tree in their home state of Maryland. Formed in 2006 under the moniker Monarch, Wasner and Stack recorded their first album in varied spots, bouncing around various basements and apartments, eventually landing a record deal with indie heavyweight Merge. The label would go on to release the act's 2008 debut, If Children, as well as the 2009 follow-up Knot and 2010 EP My Neighbor/My Creator. By the time of their 2011 self-produced album, Civilian, which was also released by Merge, Wasner and Stack had refined their sound to a fine point and had gained a devoted following. After the record's release, the duo embarked on a lengthy tour that left them completely spent and in need of a break. Once finished with their obligations, Stack relocated to Texas and Wasner launched two new projects, the more experimental Flock of Dimes and the electronic R&B duo Dungeonesse with songwriter/producer Jon Ehrens. When the time came to get back to Wye Oak, Wasner switched from guitar to bass, feeling that they had exhausted their previous guitar-based approach. Relying more on synths and drum machines and adding in some R&B influences in place of folk, their fourth album, Shriek, was recorded at the Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes and released by Merge in April of 2014. After the album's release, Wasner stayed busy providing guest vocals on albums by Mac McCaughan, Soft Pink Truth and Shearwater, while also readying the first Flock of Dimes album, which was issued by Partisan Records in late 2016. A few months before that the band and Merge dug into the archives and uncovered some songs that were written and recorded between the time of Civilian and Shriek. Titled Tween, the eight-song collection showed some behind-the-scenes footage of the band's creative shift that occurred during that time span. ~ James Christopher Monger

  • ORIGIN
    Baltimore, MD
  • FORMED
    2006

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