Wye Oak : If Children

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/wyeoakifchildren.jpg" alt=" " />The duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner grow strong on their debut as Wye Oak, <i>If Children</i>. ...
7.0 Merge

Wye Oak : If ChildrenThe duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner grow strong on their debut as Wye Oak, If Children. The two Baltimore natives may have named their band after the state tree of Maryland, but their Americana alt-folk draws from all the states of the union.  There’s even a hint of Canadian-style fuzzy expanse to their music, giving it a fuller waft.

If Children opens with the restrained alt-country of “Please Concrete”, which grows to an epic sound in its last third.  In general, Wye Oak is finer when the two go grander, thanks to an orchestral static that makes them stand out from other indie-country acts.  “Warning” plays this just right, but also adds in a certain level of hook, to make it the best piece on the record.  It really stands head-and-shoulders above the following “Regret”, some finger-plucking folk, and “Archaic Smile”, a sad meander.

The band reaches their next highest point with “Family Glue”, whose wistful alt-country has weight and touch, but also that winning fuzzy sound.  “Orchard Fair” goes more towards the alt-jangle pop/rock, but “I Don’t Feel Young” is truly an expansive waft (though the lyrics are a little trite).  The expanse of “Keeping Company” is cuter, but done well, with some really nice piano, while “A Lawn to Mow” is some relaxed, even shambling alt-folk.  The slow semi-title track “If Children Were Wishes” delivers washing waves, though does go on a bit, and “Obituary” finisher brings back the catch, in an alt-country strum procession.

Wye Oak’s mixture of southern, backwoods roots and modern indie makes it a nice fit for North Carolina’s Merge Records (Arcade Fire, Spoon, M. Ward), bringing to mind such newer label mates as Oakley Hall (QRO album review) and She & Him (QRO album review).  HBO’s The Wire may have concluded its incredible five-season run, and the Orioles may once again suck this season, but Baltimore’s got something special in Wye Oak.

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