wye oak the knot
  • WEDNESDAY, JULY 22, 2009

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A boy-girl duo from Baltimore, Wye Oak paint darkly pretty songs with desperate, beautiful bassline and string. Measured hesitation and pause in their tracks heighten the melody and heavy longing in the floating, true vocals on their sophomore album The Knot. In songs that embrace a solitary, melancholy quiet or a full, expansive need, echoes and instruments that weigh, cling to forests and bells, this is a roll of film in emerald shades and sepia tones of not just indie rock or shoegaze but a force on its own.

Songs like "Take It In" begins with that signature gorgeous bass, as the suggestive melodies of the guitar and singer Jenn Wasner's voice carries it on small steps toward the surround sound evolution that is the bridge before the sweet, fleeting verses resume with a bleak resignation. A stare, a whisper, a cynical smile on a stormy night, the explosions of the thunder and lightning of guitars and drums the perfect contradiction against the calm before and after, until at its end it becomes but a release, a lush, complex whirl that finally dissolves in fireflies and wet leaves on the ground. "Siamese" reassures that things are okay, yet those strings quiver with fear, while Wasner sings that "you couldn't scare me if you try," this brave front beautiful in the suggested hints of what lies beneath.

Then there is "Tattoo," grand in choruses and a clear snap snap snap path toward a sky reaching climax, white robes and light straininging through stained glass, this musical conjugation, a religion of fuzzy guitars and noise in a theatrical lush blend. "I Want For Nothing" is a pleading love song, the love of a broken heart and staggered past, here in strings that lead to self destructive sentiments with a heartbreaking slowness, and then a chorus filled with unlikely hope and beauty, a bitter want for nothing in spider bites of a melody that rises and falls like a gray ocean, with the sun of quickened pulses and strings that leaks now and then with Wasner's pretty voice. "That I Do" is an unmasked, emotional pour in a bass that thuds, each a sob, and vocals confident in her despair. Seems fitting then that the album ends on a song that pleads for fighting on, and escape from these mesmerizing melodies of a stark sad beauty. -Laura Yan

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