Album Review: Wye Oak ‘Shriek’

wye oak

Wye Oak Shriek

Rating: 4.0/5

Shriek is Wye Oak’s first album since Civilian, which garnered them national name recognition. And so there’s a lot of pressure associated with this faux-sophmore album. But as far as how this album compares to their previous albums, I’ve never felt the need to do that to an artist. Civilian is a fantastic, but different album. And by the time you get to “Logic of Color” you won’t care what came “Before” because there is no bad song on this album. There are some hiccups here or there and some work could be done on the transitions, but nit-pickiness aside… Buy it. Turn the volume up. Close your eyes. Or leave them open. It doesn’t matter. Even during some of the complacent moments, I’m reminded of humanity in all of the best and worst ways. I’m reminded of myself and all the dreams I have still to dream. I may be a romantic, but apparently so is Wye Oak.

I listen to the album with the door to my house open. There are birds singing outside. At least I think they are outside. They could be inside my headphones, but I can’t tell. I can’t parse out the real world from the album. Granted, during the album’s title track, “Shriek,” there are literally bird noises in the background. But I know that there are also noises of the outside world breaking through. It feels like a dream; one that I dreamt so often, that it has become a memory.

Wye Oak’s latest album doesn’t just feel like a dream because of the lo-fi soundscape or the whimsical and gentle vocals of Jenn Wasner. It’s also the jaunting reverberations that somehow penetrate my memories. I have visions inspired by lyrics. I drive faster and faster as “Glory” blasts through my speakers. I’m living a car chase that isn’t happening. This album is 100% escape. And the fantasy doesn’t stop there. It bleeds into my concrete world, which is what makes it special. I find myself listening to “School of Eyes” for what feels like the 10,000th time even though it’s only the 3rd. I stop feeling the need to fight melodramatic sensationalism. It’s complicated and repetitious and dissonant and beautiful and dramatic and a reminder of things I hadn’t forgotten, but just ignored.

The problem with reviewing an album is that music invokes such terrible and awesome feelings that we can try to capture with words, but it’s never enough. You’re going to have to listen to it yourself and develop your own opinion, but from one aficionado to another, this album is worth forming an opinion on.


Picks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10


-Sarah Jordan


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