Every so often an album comes out of nowhere and absolutely blows your mind in such a way that you wonder how you even survived without it. Instantly you get a connection with it and it rings so true that you wonder if this band was made entirely for you. And according to Wikipedia — as if to make them even more impressive — Andy Stack plays drums and the bass lines at the same time at gigs. Again, this is Wikipedia… but if it’s true, wow.
Wye Oak’s debut release for Merge Records – that of Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel and Conor Oberst etc — The Knot has done exactly that. It’s authentic beauty rumbles along with ease. If someone locked Yeah Yeah Yeahs in a mountain lodge somewhere in the Rockies they might have happened upon this sound.
‘Mary is Mary’ is the jewel in The Knot‘s crown, and it shines for its full eight minutes or so. It grows through bassy hollow body guitars, feedback and a beautiful vocal, Jenn Wasner has the perfect balance in her voice of grit and undulating beauty. When the harmonies enter, the hairs on the back of your neck rise to meet it. Even at eight minutes, the track doesn’t quite feel long enough.
The unrelenting dark beauty of The Knot ties the whole thing together, whether it is the droning crunch of ‘Take It’, the immersing power of ‘For Prayer’, the slow-burning ‘Talking About Money’ or the garage blues of ‘That I Do’. I could go on. Hopefully, so should Wye Oak.
Words: Jack Phillips