Embracing the past
Wye Oak’s re-release of their 2011 album Civilian celebrates the past and embraces their fanbase. By pairing the album with 12 previously rare/unreleased materials (Cut All the Wires: 2009-2011), Wye Oak delves into their past, acknowledging their beginnings. When looking through memorabilia in 2020 of the Civilian era, the band decided to dust off their shelved songs, releasing it as a tenth-anniversary release of the album. With demos abound, there is a new life seen in the works of Wye Oak’s album with Civilian + Cut All the Wires:2009-2011.
In its signature cross between indie/noise rock and dream pop, Wye Oak has transported into an era, perhaps ringing even truer now than its first release. With melancholia abound, there is a sort of bleakness to it that could only grow more salient in the times that we live in. The opening track, “Two Small Deaths,” so carefully depicts the news of distant death. When death seems to be all around, there is hard to find room for grievance. In a way, these moments, even if they were directly surrounding the life of Jenn Wasner, become even more universal now, over a year of mass death within this country and around the world.
The re-release has a way of conveying such a large variety of emotions in its track order. With demos being etched into the framework of the original work, there is a sense of the process that was not seen before. The roaring noise rock instrumentals of “Half a Double Man” pair nicely with the hushed, more subtle demo track of “Holy Holy.” The push and pull of each song act in dialogue while celebrating its inception. Never before has Wye Oak’s fanbase gotten such rich material to expand the work of their previous albums. This record shows a magnificent side of them, transporting to an old sound and recognizing how it paved a way for its more recent ones.
In the sadness of songs such as “Electricity,” there is beauty. Even if the angst no longer truly defines their sound quite like this breakthrough album, the respect for these emotions is still there. The band has described just how this album has shown its growth over the years. Even if these songs are not quite what Wye Oak is anymore, the songs still greatly encapsulate a moment of feeling.
With the many re-releases made popular in recent years, it is important to recognize the sheer growth of artists. The notes of indie rock, dream pop and noise rock are all within Civilian + Cut All the Wires: 2009-2011. The fact that this helped put them on the map should not be understated. The B-side gives people a true treat in a further look into the sonic world they built to create. It truly enhances and gives further meaning to the previous record.