Wye Oak - Civilian - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Wye Oak - Civilian

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9.5 Release Date:2011-03-07

'Civilian' is the third album by Baltimore duo Wye Oak and it carries an eclectic blend of wistful folk, noise and funereal atmospherics. It's all rather grainy at the start of opener 'Two Small Deaths' as a background of cackling voices and hubbub is slowly drowned out by a persistent drum click and slow burning vocals complemented with a jutting, chiming guitar across a kaleidoscope of keyboard layers.

The album has a salubrious amount of darkness. Not in a sombre, grumpy way but more in an uplifting, resolute, inspiring mode. Rather than a rushed format the songs are cleverly crafted and the compositions have a delicate and thoroughly thought-out process that makes them affable and hypnotic. 'Holy Holy' is a hybrid of urgent guitar and Jenn Wasner's ethereal vocals really complement the heavy bass-drum beats.

The album's title track is the standout; the echo laden MBV influenced guitar, the pummelling drums and droning organ sound are simply irresistible together and the warts-and-all production puts it in the 'joy to listen to' category. 'Plains' is much more alt-country in its introduction, but the haunting piano and noise riddled guitar bring the house down during the song's finale and prevent it sinking in MOR territory.

They close with the stripped-bare 'Doubt', just Jenn and a guitar. It's rather haunting and brittle but the soaring yet sinister vocals cant dampen the spirit of artistic imagination in this beautiful album. If this becomes their epitaph, and let's hope its not for a long time, it will be a more than fervent send off for a truly great collection of tracks.

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