Wye Oak - 'Shriek' - Cover- 2014

WYE OAK Shriek

01. Before
02. Shriek
03. The Tower
04. Glory
05. Sick Talk
06. Schools of Eyes
07. Despicable Animal
08. Paradise
09. I Know The Law
10. Logic of Color


To say that WYE OAK have created yet another of their signature indie-rock albums that promises success would be quite the understatement. Their newest release Shriek breaks from most elements of their past style—mainly because lead singer Jenn Wasner trades in her guitar that she relied heavily upon in their 2011 album Civilian. Wasner instead adopts a bass and synthesizers, both risks that played out in the band’s favor. Jenn showcases her previously suppressed vocal range aside her partner Andy Stack who remains on the drums and keyboard. Further, this Baltimore duo sheds their folk influence to pursue a more R&B vibe in Wasner’s smooth vocals and in the captivating rhythms created on synthesizers.

In spite of the ensured success expected by creating an album similar to Civilian, the pair decided to risk it and go for a change, and quite the drastic one. Although they may lose a handful of their followers who hide behind the fact that ‘they’ve changed’, the record deserves the same proclaim as that of their past works.

The album begins with Before, a track heavily infused in synthesizers and drum beats interspersed with vocals. Though these instrumentals run thick throughout the album, the team draws more on vocals in the remaining tracks. Wasner’s vocal range shines in The Tower and Glory as she easily moves from her confident middle ground to the high pitches that she infrequently utilizes.

The track that gives the album its name gives off an ethereal feeling, one of being lifted to a place far removed. Maybe this mirrors what Jenn Wasner feels as she removes the constraints of sticking to the guitar to maintain the band’s identity. Like many other tracks on the album, Shriek would make for a memorable live performance, as the beat and lyrics repeat themselves only enough to get the audience going without throwing them into a pop-induced dull.

WYE OAK took a risk and that risk was a success. As they continue to evolve, only good can be expected of the pair. Maybe with the album’s tour will come Wasner’s desire to change styles again, and in turn a revelation like Shriek will appear.

WYE OAK hang up the guitar to create ‘Shriek’, an album rife with synthesizers that will make for a great live show.

NBHAP Rating: 3,5/5