On Wye Oak's 2007 debut, If Children, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack merged indie-pop catchiness with delirious guitar noise to create a dense record with enough sugary hooks in the swirl to inspire bobbing heads instead of dazed shoegazing. A tad starker and just a bit more subtle, The Knot finds the band growing as songwriters without sacrificing either the joyous crush of bubblegum (the sing-along, reverb-drenched mini-epic "Tattoo") or the mix of feathery vox and cathartic feedback stomp ("That I Do").
But the real joy of The Knot is Wasner's increased confidence in her own instrument, often left unadorned amidst the increasingly layered sonics. Early comparisons to Chan Marshall’s sleepy-eyed delivery still hold, but Wasner's downy voice, more prominent in the mix than ever before, is more buoyant, retaining a flicker of optimism even when the pair goes somber. On "Siamese," the duo are at their best, Wasner lilting through the verses on the edge of a swoon, only to slip away for a mid-song duet for dreamy reversed guitars and tasteful strings. Even as Wye Oak's music has gained an impressive nuance, and Wasner's pipes have earned her a place in the top tier of indie divas, Wye Oak remain heart-on-sleeve approachable, making The Knot one of the year's most immediately likable indie rock albums, as well as one of the most musically impressive.