Wye Oak’s “Civilian”
Published: September 21, 2011
There are plenty of things to celebrate about Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack’s success over the past year, from the release of third album Civilian to a new level of buzz and an ongoing cycle of ever-bigger tours/tour dates (Merriweather em-effin’ Post Pavilion, y’all) for the duo. The one that keeps coming back to us, though, is the new record’s title track. On the album, a moody folkish guitar intro and an organ’s slightly ominous tones underlie Wasner’s confessional-sounding croon, the track building as the band’s songs often do into a controlled tantrum of electric guitar. A happened-across link to an acoustic performance on a rooftop in Amsterdam (youtube.com/watch?v=DVaeAu_noFM) brought out bullseye lyrics about hanging on to baby teeth and wanting to love someone “like my mother’s mother’s mothers did,” underlining the ache already there in Wasner’s voice. And then, a few weeks ago, we heard its opening bars and the mournful background vocals of its pounding climax scoring the Season Two trailer for AMC’s The Walking Dead. It’s an indie-rock anthem and a heart-piercing lament for the ways things end, and don’t, and a soundtrack for the zombie apocalypse, and it devastates in all contexts. Hats off.