wyeoak

Baltimore duo Wye Oak’s restrained yet expansive sound has seen Jenn Wassner and Andy Stack combine folk, shoegaze and alt-rock to great acclaim in the past. But in a move that may polarise opinion for established fans, their fifth release does away with the guitars that flooded their previous work in favour of shimmering, full-bodied synth-pop; their intimate lyrical core now wrapped in a sound that is closer in style to Wassner’s side-project Dungeonesse.

‘Shriek’ sees the duo revel in a refurbished sonic palette, one which takes them to far more mainstream reaches than before: as piano hooks undulate across the dreamy flutter of Stack’s organic synths (‘Shriek’), dense recursive beats wash over Wassner’s melodic bass (‘School Of Eyes’) and haunting vocals (‘The Tower’, ‘Sick Talk’, ‘Glory’) are tempered by effervescent and experimental pop. Admittedly, the album blurs a little towards the end, but regardless, what remains is a convincing sea change that adds new layers of texture and warmth to Wye Oak’s inherently rich tone; as though a different band had been hiding in plain sight all along.

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