The Baltimore duo Wye Oak showed promise in their early tracks, but it wasn't until 2011's subdued, rolling, punch-to-the-gut single "Civilian," the title cut from their latest album, that the band emerged as authentic rock heartbreakers. "I am nothing without pretend," begins Jenn Wasner, testifying to her own vulnerability. She sings of keeping her baby teeth, her need for intimacy, and her weaknesses. "I still stand in awe of superficial things," Wasner admits. "I wanted to love you like my mother's mother's mothers did."
The music swells in intensity and breaks into a gallop after the first minute and a half. It reaches a screeching, somewhat dissonant conclusion, mirroring the confessional, dazed spaciness of the lyrics. What stands out about the album Civilian isn't so much the music--although it has become fuller, more energetic and more assured than the band's previous material--as it is the visceral sense of yearning throughout. No song sums up that feeling as well as "Civilian."
On iTunes: Wye Oak / "Civilian"
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.