Much has been said about the evolution and adaptability of Baltimore duo, Wye Oak. However, the band’s consistency and singular vision is less often lauded. Since 2011’s breakout Civilian, Wye Oak has been on a tear releasing indie gems: Shriek, Tween, and now The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs. So yes, this latest LP certainly stands alongside Wye Oak’s formidable catalog. Yet, ironically for a band that is constantly growing and improving, the quality of The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs should have been easily predictable.
If Civilian was the morose masterpiece that launched Wye Oak’s career, then Shriek was where they solidified their greatness. With funky synth and bass grooves and ontological lyrics, Wye Oak elevated the high drama of Civilian to universal proportions. On The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, the band finds a delightful middle ground between the personal and the grandiose. There are still numerous moments of existential musing and angst, but this record largely a more upbeat and light hearted affair.
The excellent “Lifer” and “It Was Not Natural” evaluate various dimensions of interpersonal relationships, but tasteful string and synth textures punctuate the gloom. In that regard, the album is more Police than, say, The Cure.
At times this contrast feels weightless, as on “My Signal” or “Join.” However, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is largely successful at balancing levity and concern. Even the title reflects this duality. Is the “It” a menacing force or an elusive goal? Wye Oak doesn’t explicitly answer this question, even on the titular track, but it is precisely this ambiguity (reflected in both the lyrics and music) that drives the record. The result is propulsive yet, effortless. The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs stands tall in Wye Oak’s canon and indeed in the indie-rock canon as a whole.