Posts Tagged ‘The Louder I Call the Faster It Runs’

Once upon a time, the key word for Wye Oak’s music was “catharsis,” mostly thanks to Jenn Wasner’s volcanic guitar breaks. But on 2014’s Shriek, they dismantled the formula they’d recently perfected in favor of a restart, a redefinition. And The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is the culmination of that, an album that defies easy comparison as Wasner and Andy Stack meld stratospheric synths, wiry rhythms, and melted guitar lines. The catharses are often subtler now, but there’s a whole different kind of release in hearing a band sound like this  like freedom. There’s still an inherent melancholy to their music, but Wye Oak are now processing that differently. Rather than stare into the depths of human experience, they’re reaching for the horizon and turning their searching eyes skyward.

The phrase “dream pop banger” would be a contradiction in terms if not for this glorious song, the centerpiece of Wye Oak’s album of the same name. Jenn Wasner, who has spent a decade honing one of the greatest voices in indie-rock, sings about the inexorable urge to seek patterns in chaos, repeating the title with mantra-like fervor: “The louder I call, the faster it runs / The louder I call, the faster it runs.” And then the song seems to do precisely that, growing faster, louder, more joyously overwhelmed, as it spins around and around its central refrain.


Released April 6th, 2018,

Written and Produced by Wye Oak 
Jenn Wasner: vocals, guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, programming
Andy Stack: drums, guitar, bass, programming, keyboards, piano, upright bass

Pedal Steel on “You of All People” and “Join” by Colt Miller
Cello on “My Signal” by Paul Wiancko 
Violin on “My Signal” by Michi Wiancko 
String Arrangement on “My Signal” by Paul and Michi Wiancko

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Wye Oak’s fifth album pursues a litany of modern malaises, each track diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song’s subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked. A gripping and powerful set of songs built with melodies, movement, and emotions that transcend even the best of their back catalogue.

Indie sophisticates Wye Oak return with the album “The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs”, the duo’s most vibrant and aurally dazzling record to date. The tonal change that began on 2014’s Shriek carries through to their fifth effort, whose dramatic polyrhythms and ever-shifting synth and guitar grooves resemble the interlocking gears of some fantastic timepiece. Since their 2006 debut, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have taken an increasingly less-straightforward path to achieve their musical means, working well beyond the minimalism of their guitar-and-drums personnel to create intricate but accessible modern pop music. Wasner’s excellent 2016 solo project, Flock of Dimes, is certainly a major influence on the current direction of  Wye Oak, placing a greater emphasis on bright, electronic-threaded production and arrangements that are somehow both sweeping and finely detailed. a more prominent multi-instrumentalism which is as heavy on guitar as on synths, loops, and other electronic elements from both players. Songs like “The Instrument,” “Symmetry,” and the dynamic title cut hurl along with an intrinsic energy, exploring the relationships of self, others, and sounds themselves. While honoring their guitar and drums roots, Wye Oak fill out their canvas with a variety of colors from the pensive underlying loops of the dreamy “You of All People” to the deeply atmospheric centerpiece, “My Signal,” which places Wasner’s gorgeous vocals over an elegant arrangement of strings and experimental pinging tones. When working together, their push and pull remains an attractive part of their appeal and never more so than on this exciting outing.

From the album The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, out April 6, 2018 on Merge Records

Wye Oak’s fifth album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, begins with a warm-up instrumental, The brief track hums with a disorienting noise  electronic pulses, snatches of ambient conversation and what sounds like a creaking floorboard  but is dominated by someone picking out wobbly notes on an off-key piano, as if they’re coaxing the instrument back into tune. The meticulous exercise is a success: By the end of “(tuning),” the piano’s keystrokes are strident and melodic, and bleed directly into the second track, “The Instrument,” a bustling display of fizzy synthesizers and rain-on-tin drums.

The idea that settling into a groove requires patience and subtle tweaks also happens to be Wye Oak’s career narrative. After forming in 2006, the duo (multi-instrumentalists Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) slowly have become a more traditional indie-rock act into a keyboard-heavy operation. Although this progression was certainly due to Wasner’s growing interest in electronic music — outside of Wye Oak, she’s dabbled in R&B-tinged gloss-pop with Dungeonesse and maintains the synth-forward solo project, Flock Of Dimes.

On The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, Wasner and Stack sound even more emboldened than they did on Wye Oak’s last proper studio album, 2014’s Shriek. Here, the pair builds on the record’s keyboard and sculpts adventurous, pop bursting with contrasting textures. A stabbing kick drum propels the grimy stomp “Over And Over,” which is also daubed with spiderweb-like synths, while distorted guitar crashes to the forefront of the otherwise tranquil “Lifer.” Throughout other songs, dusky guitars dissect plush keyboard layers, and on “You of All People,” off-kilter rhythms push against Wasner’s ethereal vocals.

Wye Oak, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
In a nod to this slightly askew vibe, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs‘ lyrics are oblique, and focus on coming to terms with life when things don’t quite go as planned. Rather than wallowing in disappointment, however, the speaker in these songs marvels at change and attempts to assimilate new realities. “As I expected, with time it hasn’t gotten easier / I have to work now at things that used to be like breathing,” Wasner observes on the Kate Bush-esque “It Was Not Natural,” while on “Lifer,” she admits, “I am not old, but I’ve become afraid of things I never was.”

The hard-fought wisdom shared on the sugary dream-pop gem “Say Hello” is even more striking. “We want our wishes to bow to us / But they have a life of their own,” Wasner reveals early in the song, before eventually drawing a poignant conclusion: “It is hard to admit you were all wrong / Accept some things are not for you.” She sounds wistful and resigned as she sings these lyrics; the sense of loss is palpable.

Yet The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is anything but nostalgic. The members of Wye Oak derive power from striding forward without the sonic (and emotional) baggage of the past. That’s evident in the album’s seismic musical leaps — the gorgeous “My Signal,” which pairs delicate string twirls with Wasner’s bravado-laden a cappella vocals.

From the album The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, out April 6th, 2018 on Merge Records.

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I’m pleased to report the Wye Oak is at it again with their 6th studio album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It RunsThis time around, they are suckling on the particle climate that we live in and aim to provide sound to the feelings and torment that many of us our experiencing. The release is on “sand and sky” (opaque beige and transparent blue) vinyl

For The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack flew to one another’s cities—she in Durham, North Carolina, he in Marfa, Texas—for a week or so at a time, hunkering in home studios to sort through and combine their separate song sketches. These shorter stints together produced less second-guessing and hesitation in their process, yielding an unabashed and unapologetic Wye Oak. They discarded past rules about how to write a record, instead funneling all those experiences and experiments into perfectly unified statements.

The result is the biggest, broadest, boldest music Wye Oak has ever made. Louder pursues a litany of modern malaises, each of its dozen tracks diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song’s subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked. It arrives at a time of immense doubt, when our personal problems are infinitely compounded by a world that seems in existential peril. But these songs answer the challenge by radiating self-reflection and resolve, wielding hooks and musical intricacy as a shield against the madness of the moment.

From the album The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs, out April 6th, 2018 on Merge Records.