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Wye Oak’s ‘Shriek’ lacks the band’s trademark soulful tension

Album review: Wye Oak’s ‘Shriek’

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Wye Oak
Shriek
Merge
★★ (out of 5 stars)

The hot spotlight of their 2011 magnum opus, Civilian, must’ve done a real number on Wye Oak. Once the buzzing dust settled, the Baltimore duo was burned out and living on opposite coasts. And this departing follow-up LP personifies upheaval in total but perplexing ways. The first WTF is the absence of Jenn Wasner’s famous guitar. The second is that Shriek sounds like an Annie Lennox record. Problem is, not everyone is Annie Lennox, and this is almost certainly not what original fans came seeking. Entirely gone is the smoldering atmosphere. Replacing it wholesale are crisp, airy, adult-contemporary electronics. Shriek isn’t bloodless or without merit – especially with pop sophistication like “Glory” and “Paradise” – but it lacks their trademark soulful tension. Less defensible than this being an alienating reboot, however, is that it’s an abdication of something great.

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