Wye Oak

If Children

Dispatches from Baltimore, current titleholder of America’s “best music scene,” now carry a brand name: Baltimorgasm. It’s a term for those artists caught up in the contracted euphoria of being involved with “the next big thing.” Thankfully, Wye Oak is having none of it. Originally cut in 2007 and now rereleased on Merge, If Children teems with a matchless uneasiness—the duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner not uncomfortable with others, but their creative selves. Tracks like “Please Concrete” and “Archaic Smile” find them shattering their patiently crafted pop with feedback and heavy, processed guitars. It’s like a child crayoning a pretty picture and then tearing it to bits before anyone lays eyes upon it. There are numbers that play gentle from start to finish—like “Regret” with its raindrops-falling-on-keys piano or the buttoned-up lament “A Lawn to Mow”—but the threat of protracted noise hangs over everything. Stack and Wasner will draw comparisons to fellow Charm City artists Beach House, on account of their make-up (one male + one female) and their predilection for layered, guitar-and-organ wattage, but Wye Oak clutch what any stellar duo should clutch: a dawdling tension.