10 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rolling Stone magazine noted that Baltimore is “becoming our nation’s hub for soft-focus synth pop,” citing groups such as Future Islands, Beach House, and Wye Oak as prime examples. This might come as a surprise to fans who remember Wye Oak from their previous album, 2011’s Civilian, where they kept themselves rooted in tradition with guitars that gave them a yin-yang of folk and shoegaze textures. But with 2014’s Shriek, the duo of singer Jenn Wasner and keyboardist/drummer Andy Stack have tossed the six-strings for full-time synths, and the pop aspect is just a natural output when melodies are as light as the ones heard on the title track. “The Tower” works with a fighting rhythm, but “Glory” surrenders to the automation that makes electronics work. Wasner’s vocals are the true standout here. Her flexible approach turns the usual arpeggiated arrangements behind “Sick Talk,” “Despicable Animal,” and “Paradise” into a world of goth, pop, and diva worship all into one. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rolling Stone magazine noted that Baltimore is “becoming our nation’s hub for soft-focus synth pop,” citing groups such as Future Islands, Beach House, and Wye Oak as prime examples. This might come as a surprise to fans who remember Wye Oak from their previous album, 2011’s Civilian, where they kept themselves rooted in tradition with guitars that gave them a yin-yang of folk and shoegaze textures. But with 2014’s Shriek, the duo of singer Jenn Wasner and keyboardist/drummer Andy Stack have tossed the six-strings for full-time synths, and the pop aspect is just a natural output when melodies are as light as the ones heard on the title track. “The Tower” works with a fighting rhythm, but “Glory” surrenders to the automation that makes electronics work. Wasner’s vocals are the true standout here. Her flexible approach turns the usual arpeggiated arrangements behind “Sick Talk,” “Despicable Animal,” and “Paradise” into a world of goth, pop, and diva worship all into one. 

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