Wye Oak
Civilian


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ryan Fitz USER (32 Reviews)
March 1st, 2011 | 41 replies | 11,216 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: like getting lost in a dream-like haze, Civilians is as potent as it is stunning

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

When asked about the nature of the Civilian, Jenn Wasner, the vocalist for the duo Wye Oak, simply stated, “I believe everyone wants to be normal, but no one truly is." You get a sense that what she says about her own album is true, but it’s hard to believe that what the duo Wye Oak was trying to express was a general uneasiness, it all seems to permeate into something else, a state of foggy yet advanced alienation. It doesn’t take long for Civilian to progress to that either, the album opens with a choice sample of crowd chatter, and as a potent wave of ambience slowly rises to the surface, and the crowd chatter slowly fades beneath, you know exactly what Wye Oak is trying to express. I think we’ve all felt alone in a crowd. Though the feeling has seldom ever been this dreamy.

Jenn Wasners voice is a bruised whisper of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, and sitting on top of the dynamic yet muted shoe gaze folk that Wye Oak has almost perfected, she is perfectly at home. It’s soft and fragile, yet smoky and dangerous. The hooks are equally as entrancing. Simply stated, Jenn's vocals are an atmosphere onto them-self. Even more wonderful is how the music itself is presented; Andy Stack’s drums are hazy yet pounding in the background, isolated synths shiver in the distance, while Jenn’s guitar chords simply drift. It’s all breathtakingly spaced, and even more breathtakingly narcotic.

While the chilled warmth of the loneliness is the essence and the soul of Civilian, It’s when everything falls apart where the album reaches its great heights. When “Dog Eyes” lucid atmosphere is split open by a shockingly violent guitar solo, it’s an awesome sight to behold. Even Andy Stacks seems unprepared for the eruption, as the percussion mutates into something as erratic as the guitar itself. When "Plains" abruptly transforms from a ghostly folk tune to entrancing keyboards, there seems to be a similar effect, yet seductively anesthetized. There only seems to be a fragile strand keeping these songs together, and often times things seem to be on the cusp of aggressively falling apart, with God knows what keeping them together. Surprisingly though the entire thing function extraordinarily well, which speaks to the talent of Wye Oaks. The entire album remarkably feels entirely realized, and when Wye Oaks reach out of that trance of a comfort zone, it works to a prodigious degree. You could suggest that it’s the paranoia starting to take a grip, but even outside of the constraints of the concept, it’s hard to deny that Jenn can simply just play the *** out of a guitar.

Plainly stated, within this album Wye Oak never lose their surreal edge. The entire album functions as a well orchestrated atmospheric experience of subtle paranoia, while simultaneously presenting it’s listener with a well done freak folk album. Wye Oak have described Civilians as their first “real record”, and just like Jenn Wasners quote in the introduction, they’re understating the fact, the tools in this album work extraordinarily well together. It’s the perfect music to get lost in, preferably in a shopping mall.



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user ratings (102)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
LudditeStereo (4)
Civilian is a big, lush-sounding album that brings you in close....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
letsgofishing
March 1st 2011



900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Trying to get away from describing a handful of tracks each review, and start to treat each album, like..well you know, an album.

If the review didn't convince you just listen to this kick-ass single
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2VNG8yMI8w

and then listen to the whole album streaming on NPR
http://www.npr.org/2011/02/28/133998055/first-listen-wye-oak-civilian

letsgofishing
March 1st 2011



900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Accidentally commented twice

BallsToTheWall
March 1st 2011



44164 Comments


As a Marissa Nadler and shoegaze whore there is no doubt in my mind i'd love this. Review was exciting to read.

Kiran
Emeritus
March 1st 2011



6000 Comments


been excited for this

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

lancebramsay
March 2nd 2011



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sold - checking this out soon

Kiran
Emeritus
March 2nd 2011



6000 Comments


this is great

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yes i enjoyed this

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

iFghtffyrdmns
March 2nd 2011



7047 Comments


fantastic review, will definitely check this when i find the time to.

radianteclipse
March 2nd 2011



397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had no idea they had a new album! This seriously made my day! :-) MUST LISTEN

GulliKyro
March 2nd 2011



357 Comments


Its solid. Civilian and Fish are great songs.

alachlahol
March 2nd 2011



7477 Comments


she wails on that guitar. band reminds me of local natives

radianteclipse
March 2nd 2011



397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Civilian is the best song I've heard in a long time. I can't get enough of it.

AggravatedYeti
March 2nd 2011



7684 Comments


band is so good can't wait to open this

Time
March 2nd 2011



81 Comments


the knot is my fuckin jam, love seeing these bmore bands get big

BigTuna
March 2nd 2011



5154 Comments


this sounds very yummy



Digging: Common - Nobody's Smiling

DiceMan
March 2nd 2011



7068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah this was pretty chill

Was streaming on NPR yesterday if anyone wants to listen you can go right ahead

North0House
March 2nd 2011



1764 Comments


I saw this somewhere, advertised or something.
I will definitely look into it more now.

lancebramsay
March 10th 2011



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is way better than that new Eisley album.

shazwagon
March 13th 2011



84 Comments


That link to the single was enough... I am so buying this!

letsgofishing
March 13th 2011



900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been listening to this album all day, it's a little weak in spot's, but shit when it's good, its damn good.



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