Reviews in 200 Words

"Civilian" by Wye Oak

In Album on March 9, 2011 at 11:56 am

Some bands teach. Their albums are lessons on how to make music move. Track by track they parse it down to the elements. Documenting it. Studying it. And then using it at their will: combing and separating until by the end what’s left is something new and heretofore undiscovered. Wye Oak are perfecting their alchemy. These new songs sound simmered and reduced – like wine and shallots in a butter sauce – so that everything is intensified. The album doesn’t play nice. Sometimes it disappoints, only then to chastise you for thinking ill of it.

Like a musical Rumplestiltskin, the duo spins melody out of noise. They bet against you when you guess at the influence. They demand payment when your guesses are wrong. They pick perfect art for their album cover. They make people wish they could sing with that voice. They suggest headphones, seducing and exploding in ways that suggest the iPod is on shuffle. They are sparse when they need to be and a racket when they want to be. They convince unbelievers that maybe there is good music being made today – that maybe it’s everywhere, subtle and beautiful and sublime.

– Jay Cullis


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