The Baltimore, Maryland-based duo Wye Oak has learned a lot in their five years as a band.
The most important lesson: when to rein in their explosive talent, and when to let it all loose.
Jenn Wasner is a truly impressive guitarist with an embellished technique all her own. Her vocals are equally extraordinary— she confidently navigates her expansive range on each track with a likable drawl. Meanwhile, her counterpart Andy Stack plays keys with the left hand while he drums with his right hand and his feet.
For Wasner and Stack, Civilian has a newfound smartness and more adult feel than their previous releases. The songs ebb and flow between quiet restraint and all-out loud chaos that is wild with emotion and power. Oddly enough, the two hardly look at each other during performances—they seem to play their own musically challenging tracks with a subconscious connection, executing huge dynamic and tempo changes with a mystifying exactness.
Coupled with their musical prowess and dynamic range, Wye Oak also pens lyrics that will cut right through the listener: “Perfectly able to hold my own hand/but I still can’t kiss my own neck,” Wasner sings on the album’s title track.
Wye Oak represents the hopeful, brainy, and exorbitantly talented future of rock, and Civilian is worth every penny of the purchase, and deserves every second of your attention.