Two hours before writing this, I had never heard of Wye Oak. Their newest album, “The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs,” popped up on the New Releases page of Spotify, and being the adventurous spirit I am, I decided to listen.
I could immediately tell it was going to be a weird album when I realized that the first 40-second track is just the sounds of the band tuning their collection of instruments. It takes a special kind of indie artist to include the grinding, discordant noise of tuning in valuable album space. I found that maybe one song of the musical part of the album was worth listening to.
The second track (the first song), titled “The Instrument,” was a jittery and cheerful introduction to Wye Oak for me. I immediately wanted to compare them to St. Vincent and Passion Pit, the vocals and melancholy melodies of St. Vincent with the clean synths and keyboards of Passion Pit.
Track three is the titular song of the album, and was about the peak of my interest in Wye Oak. For the first minute I thought it would be a fun, eclectic song, but as soon as the build-up to the melody ends the song turns into a hectic mush of synths with the same line repeated over and over until it finally ends without ceremony.
I continued listening, hoping that the main single wasn’t representative of the whole album, as is often the case. The following track, “Lifer,” was somewhat redeeming. I enjoyed the sounds, but I couldn’t distinguish it from any number of early 2010s indie groups.
The lyrics throughout “The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs” are absurdly cryptic. Jenn Wasner, the lead vocalist, goes on about memories and thoughts I found impossible to decipher. Maybe I don’t possess a high enough consciousness to understand the messages delivered by Wasner, but I usually like to at least find a theme to follow in music.
Whenever the songwriters found a catchy melody for a song, it seemed they decided to repeat the same two measures for the entire song. There is no melodic arc, no harmony, just a simple drum beat layered over with too many electronic instruments played by too few musicians.
“The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs” sounds like an attempt to mix the sounds of dream and indie-rock without creating anything original. When I initially heard the familiar noise similar to St. Vincent and Passion Pit I was encouraged. I thought I had found something great. I was right to compare them, because that’s all there is to this album. It’s a repetitive, annoying, copycat version of groups that have found success in the genre.