Wye Oak, The Knot

Jess Harvell

By Jess Harvell

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Knot

Wye Oak

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").

Shoegaze sweethearts step up with strident, swirling pop songs

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.