I was apprehensive the first time I hear “The Tower” by Wye Oak. The new track, off Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner’s forthcoming LP Shriek, is so vastly different from their previous material, I was almost initiated the metaphorical reject button. Gave it a few days, and tried it again with better results.
Yes, Wye Oak’s new album, for many, is likely to be a sleeper. Like anything new I’ve ever listened to by Stars, Shriek takes a few listens before that Aha! moment occurs.
Opposed to the band’s previous work which, thanks to that epic churning of emotion, has found its way into TV and film (“Civilian” alone found homes in The Walking Dead and Safety Not Guaranteed), I anticipate Shriek won’t have as much success on the licensing front.
But that’s meaningless to virtually everyone but the band. Plenty of phenomenal and more-than-worthy songs, releases and artists have never seen such success.
What I admire about Shriek, in fact, is that it’s such a departure from their prior LPs. And it makes sense. For the first time in the band’s history, Jenn and Andy spent a substantial time apart.
Here’s a glimpse into the background of Shriek’s creation:
Andy had recently moved to the west coast, leaving their hometown of Baltimore. Simultaneously but separately, the two began exploring new ways of writing. Jenn, having picked up the bass did not begin with her typical guitar and likewise Andy began to explore different ways of layering keyboards. The freedom of these new methods allowed for a new found emotional immediacy and in spite of, or perhaps because of the distance, Wye Oak have recorded their most personal album yet.
Yes, their most personal album yet. That’s a bold (but true) statement; it’s one that’s almost hard to believe if you’re a long-time fan of Wye Oak, a band that has always had an on-the-sleeve depth of personalization. It’s what makes Shriek a phenomenal release.
Look for the new LP on April 29 via Merge Records. The first 1,000 orders on vinyl get awesome orange vinyl.