The Knot

Bittersweet, expressive folk-rock plucks heartstrings on Baltimore duo Wye Oak's album The Knot.

Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, the guitar-and-drums duo known as Wye Oak, recorded their debut album, If Children, in basements and bedrooms in and around their beloved Baltimore, and riddled their brand of indie folk-rock with waves of distortion. For their second effort, The Knot, the band eased up on the shoegaze in favor of polished, chamber-pop arrangements, and it paid off. Wasner’s voice shakes and towers like a young Chan Marshall, a nervier Liz Phair, or even (gasp) Sarah McLachlan (if the Lilith Fair had been a bit more indie rock). On the slow grind of “Mary Is Mary,” Wasner and Stack pull desperately hard on the heartstrings (note: playing this song on repeat following a breakup is not recommended). But “Sight, Flight,” the anthemic closer, leaves the lovelorn listener with hope that she’ll tie her own knot someday.