Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wye Oak's "The Knot": Still Stunning

By Evan Rytlewski
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The Knot, the second album from the Baltimore indie-rock duo Wye Oak, bowled me over on first listen last month, and subsequent weeks have only affirmed my initial impression. I still think it could be the group's breakthrough record, but it now seems that breakthrough might be a delayed one: Today, in an almost apologetic review, Pitchfork writer Mike Powell damned the record with a dismissive 5.9 rating, which is frosty enough to deter a lot of bloggers and music writers from even giving the album the cursory listen it deserves. That's a major setback.

Powell's complaint with the album, as I understand it, is essentially that The Knot is a heavier, more guitar-oriented album than its hushed predecessor, If Children—which, of course, is exactly why I think this new record is so striking. If Children was pleasant if not a little too twee, but the turbulent, slash and burn guitars on The Knot add real stakes to The Knot's sad songs—it also helps that Jenn Wasner's blandly pretty voice has grown bolder and more devastating, too.

Don't let one review from one critic who prefers the band be more sweet than sour discourage you from checking out this great record.

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