Wye Oak – Louder I Call, the Faster it Runs (3 stars)

Wye Oak: The Louder I Call, the Faster it Runs

The band's new record is a long and determined musical journey

Andy Stacks and Jenn Wasner are back with a fifth album since their band's formation in 2006. The once-defined indie-rock duo is perhaps now more accurately known for their foray into electronica, and this record offers both an intriguing blend, and contrast, between their folk roots and synthetic present.

The album's opening consists of 40 seconds of tuning instruments. It's a clever tone-setter for what's to come, suggesting that Wye Oak view their music as primarily instrumental, with electronic influences secondary.

The title track is a wonderful crescendo of melodies complimenting Wasner's dreamy, layered vocals. Demonstrating her impressive stylistic range, she often floats into a world of dream-pop, while at other times invokes the earthiness of a folk-rock musician and, in some moments, successfully veers into the sharp, crispness associated with such R&B and electronic voices as Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon.

Wye Oak are still experimenting with some of their musical traits, and if it results in a few misses, it's mainly due to a lack of diversity. Songs such as 'It Was Not Natural' and 'Lifer' are real standouts, melodically and lyrically, but there are a few too many weaker inclusions. Penultimate track 'Join' is a real delight, a slightly more stripped back arrangement that harks back to old Wye Oak.

The production quality throughout is modern and fresh with moments of cacophony being well-executed, and the juxtaposition of high-quality electronic production against the folky, earthy essence of the album is a real achievement. On 'Lifer', a reflective Wasner insists 'I believe that life could be better'.

This album is not perfect, but impressively, they're a duo who continue to try and make music that steadily improves. For this long and determined musical journey, they should be commended.

Out Fri 6 Apr on Merge Records.

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