Friday, May 11, 2018

Watch: Wye Oak - "It Was Not Natural"

When former Baltimore duo Wye Oak revealed the details of their new album and released the titular "The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs", it marked not only a pleasant return to form as Jenn Wasner resumed her guitar duties after eschewing them on Shriek but also revealed a synthesis of the band's more electronic and pop leaning sensibilities from Shriek and Wasner's own Flock of Dimes project with the band's more organic, rock oriented output.

As the band continued to share more about the album, it became abundantly clear that this would be the band's most intimate. Wasner has always been exceptionally talented at providing lyrics that resonate on a personal level while maintaining largely universe and a bit vague but "It Was Not Natural" and "Lifer" found Wasner more boldly detailing the personal experiences that resulted in the song/album. Described by Wasner as a song about learning to push against the limits of our beliefs and the actual truth of things, "It Was Not Natural" is a somberer number than the album's triumphant first single. Originally detailing finding something on a walk in the forest, the song grows to encompass much more as this seemingly small discovery reveals an emotionally resonant conclusion. It's a conceit that in far less skillful hands would feel contrived but Wasner is able to imbue a sensibility into the would be avalanche of self doubt and self awareness that comes from trying to identify an unfamiliar object. Though it's part of the setup, the object itself is essentially a McGuffin, and the reasoning for the walk and its subsequent revelations forms the actual core point of the song. 
The video for "It Was Not Natural", by "The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs" director Dan Huiting, strives for both a literal and metaphorical application of the song as Wasner finds mundane takes like eating and reading imbued with a supernatural air. Wasner's response is varied but is largely a sort of indifferent acceptance like a peaceful coexistent with a ghost and it's hard not link that to the self acceptance both "It Was Not Natural" and other album cut "Lifer" espouse. While Wasner posits "with time it hasn't gotten any easier", the awareness of those more self destructive feelings lessens their power and  the video essentially ties up the loose ends from the song functioning as a counterpoint that the reward for continuously acknowledging the actual reality of things leads to a sustainable existence inside of the chaos. Wasner's awareness of it never completely diffuses the haunting in the video but it does make life with it appear easier.

Wye Oak's fifth studio album The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is out now on Merge. The band also are embarking on a US tour

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