You stare at a computer module, as piercing frequencies fill your ears. The waveforms created by the high-pitched sounds form undulating peaks and valleys on the screen, mountains that swell like ocean waves. Suddenly, you’re climbing a cragged cliff of one of those mountains, staring up at the boundless stars and satellites that illuminate the night sky. You reach the summit, turn around, and look down at the immensity of the valley’s magnificence . . .
Following the success of a record requires a bit of big picture decision-making; does the artist make an abrupt left turn in order to mine for innovation and new ideas, or does it make more sense to build upon what came before by diligently refining the familiar? History is strewn with examples of each, but a group that melds the two avenues is a true rarity. Tween is the newest release from the Baltimore duo known as Wye Oak.
This album is a beautiful enigma, one that merges the group’s experimental tendencies with what they do best. Soaring vocal harmonies, guitar wizardry, and pummeling drums mix with synthetic textures, bass grooves, and fidgety drum programming to create dreamy folk/indie-rock hybrids that are as imposing as they are gorgeous. These eight songs resemble the lofty magnitude and majesty of a volcano on the brink of eruption.
The title of the record is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the middle ground that the duo stands upon, a status that resides on the threshold between what came before and what comes next. A surprise release consisting of post-Civilian, pre-Shriek compositions that combine the best aspects of both, Tween is Wye Oak’s most wonderfully versatile, all-inclusive statement. If you’re seeking lofty indie-rock/folk, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)