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Wye Oak–Shriek

The duo has taken their touches of dreaminess and built an electronic house out of it! 

If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t believe you if you told me Shriek is actually Wye Oak’s fifth album. Wye Oak struck indie success with their previous album Civilian a couple years ago, but have moved in a completely different direction here. Gone are the traditional instruments and their entire folky aesthetic, basically the whole indiefolkrock shebang. Instead the duo has taken their touches of dreaminess and built an electronic house out of it. Shriek is entirely synthesizers, drums, and Jenny Wasner’s dreamy vocals, all neatly arranged and well done. The album swirls, plinks, and plunks along. Some songs have a stong 80s synthpop influence, such as “Despicable Animal” with its DX7 Rhodes or “Logic of Color” with its Oberheim plunks. There’s a lot of synthpop coming out these days, but Shriek manages to cut above the rest through the combination of a hybrid of unique influences and an emphasis on rhythm in the melodies. There’s hardly a held-out lead note in any track and it’s very catching. Tracks like “The Tower” and “Shriek” are composed almost entirely of rhythmic pings and pongs. Synths can easily get stale, but Wye Oak avoids most of the pitfalls. With a handful of great tracks, Shriek is a solid 41 minutes of plonky plinky electronic dreampop that’s an unusally unique animal in a same-sound breed. The duo’s complete overhaul feels completely worthwhile, with the only thing to regret being that I didn’t see them when they were in town.

Recommended if you like moodier, dreamier versions of groups like Painted Palms or Gardens & Villa

Written by Doug Bybee on 6/11/14