Review Summary: Just in case you were wondering: yes the band's worth does stretch on past the guest spot from "To Old Friends And New" on 'The Monitor.'
Finally. It may have taken two full length albums in their 4-year stint together as Wye Oak, but Baltimore duo Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have managed to put together a record (ok just an EP) of breezy, yet still moving folksy alt-country with tinges of dream-pop. Though to say they avoid an abhorring misstep would be getting a head of myself; those horrendous few bars provided by ace producer but ***ty rapper Mickey Free on his remix of their song “That I Do,” could almost derail the whole thing. Fortunately the song is situated at the end of the tracklist, Mickey only spits his hot fire for about fifteen seconds, and everything about the woozy, droned folk song from their previous record The Knott
is seemingly left behind in favor of a menacing trippy backbeat. Wasners beautiful, McLaughlin-esque croon floats effortlessly through the wavering bombast, perfect for the deep production Mickey and brother Chris provide for the five songs on the EP. Really the band’s move to allow someone else to have hand in the mixing was the right one, furthermore enlisting the Freeland brothers, who are experienced in the Baltimore Hip Hop scene (check the myspace) do nothing but elevate the songs past their previous rigid roots.
Wye Oak formerly too stiff for their own good, sound exponentially livelier. With their first two records providing a decent amount of great tracks (Tattoo
) but eventually they’d always drone themselves into a boring corner. With this possible lift of pressure on production duties, My Neighbor / My Creator
plays almost as the first time they’ve been afforded any breathing room. Confident and composed Stack and Wasner craft four reasonably separate and extremely successful tracks that build on their previous tight hold of Folk + Dream Pop + Noise
to great success. “My Neighbor” is a brilliant rocker in the New Porno‘s vein, “Emmylou” rings of NEU! at their best, “My Creator” is a horn-infused, epic slow burner while “I Hope You Die” is easily the best track this band has recorded. It builds from a humble strum and soft keys to an effervescent minimalist behemoth, tapping into Wasners ethereal croon, the song is gorgeous. Much the same can be said for the rest of the EP, and even though that one *** up is particularly huge
it is still not enough to ground these songs. Wye Oak step out of the fog -- albeit just into the mist
but it is enough to allow for a deep breath, some relaxation, with quality music made in the process.