Wye Oak (Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner) share “Half a Double Man,” the latest from their upcoming 10-year anniversary double-LP reissue, Civilian + Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011, to be released October 22nd on Merge Records. The deluxe vinyl reissue looks back into the band’s pivotal release Civilian and also includes a lost album of unreleased tracks and demos from the era of its creation.
Of “Half a Double Man,” a previously unreleased track from the Civilian sessions, Wasner says, “I think this song is about (it was over 10 years ago, after all) coming to the realization that you can never fully satisfy all the parts of yourself simultaneously, especially when they are at odds with one another. The best you can hope for is some sort of half-reconciliation, a truce that exists in that place of: not everything, but just enough.”
Wye Oak has always existed, and likely always will, at an intersection, as a paradox. Gentle and jagged, fierce and vulnerable—even the clinical sheen of the word “civilian” feels at odds with a record whose content is almost violently human. As Wasner wrote in a short note that accompanied promotional mailings of the record to press in 2011: “These are songs about aloneness (the positive kind), loneliness (the horrible kind), moving on, and letting go (of people, places, and things).”
Civilian was beloved upon release, complete with late-night TV appearances, sold-out concerts, and glowing reviews. With that acclaim came inevitable burnout, thanks in part to Wye Oak’s workhorse mentality, the 200+ shows they performed on the back of the album’s release, and a persistently misogynistic narrative about Wasner’s guitar skills. But rather than recoil, the band decided to rethink: Civilian set the duo on a decade-long course of innovation. On Shriek, the follow-up to Civilian, they completely did away with guitars. And now, in 2021, Wye Oak seem to have fully ditched the album format. From a steady stream of standalone singles (“Its Way With Me” was included on Barack Obama’s summer playlist) to 2020’s No Horizon, their EP collaboration with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Wasner and Stack are fully committed to reinventing their sound over and over again.
The Civilian + Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011 deluxe double LP is pressed on green swirl vinyl housed in a gatefold jacket that features each album’s cover when flipped. Pre-order your copy today.
Photo Courtesy: Jade Wilson