Wye Oak :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

On The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, Wye Oak synthesizes the disparate strands that have run through its discography over the last decade into one solid form. Synthesizers hum, electronics whirl, guitars mutate into fantastical shapes. All of this happens without ever losing the human elements of multi-instrumentalists Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack. It's a record sees Wye Oak transformed, but more itself.  "What my heart wishes is a treasure/Seemingly foreign/But somehow still it is familiar," Wasner sings on the slinking "It Was Not Natural."

Though both halves of the duo, which formed in Baltimore in 2006, presently reside in North Carolina, the lp was recorded with Wasner stationed in Durham and Andy Stack based out of Marfa, Texas. But all that geographic distance folds in the album's songs. Built on a foundation that suggests the art-pop grandeur of Kate Bush, the Cocteau Twins, and Peter Gabriel, the record pairs Wasner's interrogative lyrics about moral duty, acceptance, and hesitation with bombastic guitar squalls, lush harmonies, and swelling beats. While previous albums -- particularly 2011's Civilian and 2014's Shriek -- were composed with strict instrumental and conceptual limitations in mind, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs pulses with maximalist weight. "We made the world large/And wanting every piece of it," Wasner sings on "My Signal," part acknowledgment of human selfishness and part proclamation of intent. Here, Wye Oak sounds bolder than ever before.

So what does any of this have to do with Metallica? Speaking with Wasner and Stack via phone early in the morning a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find myself bringing up the Bay Area metal band as I fumbled to find the right language to discuss the ego-less approach Wye Oak employs. Luckily, two had rewatched the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster  on tour recently, and it proved a useful tool for illuminating what makes the project work. Our conversation, condensed and edited, is presented here. The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is available now from Merge Records.

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