Music

Wye Oak - "Watching the Waiting" (Singles Going Steady)

Photo: Alex Marks

Jenn Wasner's voice is a marvel of wholly natural beauty -- a phenomenon of indie-pop poeticism that seems to emerge from nature itself.

Evan Sawdey: The thing I absolutely love about Wye Oak is that I don't know what kind of rock band they're going to be on any given day. Sometimes they're moody psychedelic conquerers, sometimes giving you candy-covered pop choruses that are playing on Top 40 stations in alternate universes. With "Watching the Waiting", there's that '90s piano pop bombast behind those shimmering, strumming acoustic guitars, a pure cheese synth solo, and a galloping percussion that is crisp and constantly changing. Today they're kind of a '90s band? Today they're kind of reclaiming a space that indie pop hasn't been in for about the past five or so years? I can't tell. What I do know, however, is that I love it, and can't wait to see what band they're going to be tomorrow. [8/10]

Emmanuel Elone: From the jangle guitar to the angelic voice of Jenn Wasner, there is a lot to love about "Watching the Waiting". Wye Oak has a knack for making accessible indie rock that pulls at the heartstrings whilst retaining some punchiness in the process. Everything about this song, from the light drums that come in at the perfect time to the melodic instrumental solo that serves as the bridge, is perfectly laid down, stacked up perfectly like the best house of cards. Even the lyrics are brilliant, as Jenn lightly sings that she's "watching" her lover. Simply put, "Watching the Waiting" is a gorgeous track that's meticulously constructed yet feels like the stream-of-consciousness love note that you were ecstatic to receive from your crush in middle school. It's genius, is all I'm saying. [9/10]

Chris Ingalls: From the Baltimore duo's "surprise" Tween album, "Watching the Waiting" is a slightly lighter, folkier song that the rest of the album. Strumming acoustic guitars provide a sunny backdrop and the rushed tempo gives the song an urgency it doesn't really need, but it still works. A gem of a pop single with lots of sonic treats that make for a unique listening experience. [8/10]

Chris Conaton: Despite the hype from all corners of the indie rock internet, I missed out on Wye Oak's first album. But "Watching the Waiting" is very good. It feels like they were listening to Big Country's "In a Big Country" and used it as their starting point. Maybe it has the same chord progression but even the wobbly, squeaky synth solo seems like a take on "In a Big Country's" famous guitars-as-bagpipes riff. Still, the song stands on its own as a solid, likable track, and a lot of that is due to Jenn Wasner's compelling vocals. [6/10]

Pryor Stroud: Jenn Wasner's voice is a marvel of wholly natural beauty -- a phenomenon of indie-pop poeticism that seems to emerge from nature itself, rather than some Baltimore-born female body. Instead of notes, she sings in stabs of cloud-parting light, rasps of life-giving earth, and rushes of valley-flooding wind. In "Watching the Waiting", this voice is the main attraction, and Wasner gives one of her most subtly affecting performances to date. The track itself is a country-speckled indie-folk daydream that, despite its overarching melodic levity, delivers a story of debilitating wistfulness. [8/10]

Chad Miller: This comparison is super overused, but the vocals sound very reminiscent of Joni Mitchell at times. Unlike many of Joni Mitchell's songs though, the piece sounds occasionally held down by overproduction. It's not a huge issue though, and there's a lot in the song that redeems the snag. The melody is beautiful, and the underlying guitars (and friends) float wonderfully underneath. [7/10]

Jedd Beaudoin: This is an excellent example of an act embracing contemporary sounds but maintaining superior songwriting abilities. I've tried to love Wye Oak with each record but I've only gotten as far as enjoying the buzz for a week or two before sliding the record to the back of the collection. Maybe this is the one that'll change all that. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.57


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