Wye Oak – The Knot

Review Score: 8.2

Wye Oak are Baltimore duo Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack and The Knot is their follow-up to 2007’s surprisingly good If Children. This second offering continues and expands the steps of it’s predecessor and is a genuinely beautiful and emotional piece of noisy folk.

Sings of Wye Oak’s maturity begin to show themselves almost immediately. The music is darker, more sober and grave. While If Children only occasionally toyed with sustained distorted guitar noise, The Knot is almost entirely build around it, creating a shoegazing, almost drone-like sound. The effect is very powerful, helping to convey the deeply emotional themes of the songs.

Jenn Wasner’s vocals are another important part of the arrangement, ranging from soft whispering to full on shouting. They are the perfect illustration of The Knot’s sublime, simple beauty. A beauty that is deceptively so, for after multiple listens it really begins to dawn how dark this album truly is. Most if not all songs share themes of hate, resentment and sorrow. I can’t help but get the feeling some personal events in Jenn Wasner’s and Andy Stack’s lives brought upon this almost morbid exploration of their music.

On the downside, their decision to go almost exclusively with distorted guitars makes the diversity side suffer quite a bit, luckily the record’s sheer beauty more than makes up for it, ensuring an enjoyable listen from start to finish.

The Knot proves to be a very good album. A haunting, expertly crafted exploration into human emotions by two very talented musicians. With only their second album they have already raised the bar pretty high for themselves and it should prove interesting to find out how they’ll manage to follow it up.


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July 2009
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