Flock Of Dimes is the new project from Jenn Wasner best known as the front woman of Wye Oak. Not content with the success of Wye Oak, Jenn has also toured with the likes of Dirty Projectors, Future Islands and the Gene Clark No Other Band, as well as releasing an R&B record under the pseudonym Dungeoness, and has even made her own line of guitars.
Flock Of Dimes is essentially Jenn’s electro-pop project. She invites us into a world of processed beats, glacial synths and sweet pop-driven melodies. There’s nods to contemporaries like La Roux or Roisin Murphy, but also the more classic ilk of Kate Bush, New Order or Kraftwerk.
Although originally from Baltimore, a city Jenn describes as, “overwhelming in the best and worst senses of that word” her debut album in many way reflects her relocation to her new home in Durham, North Carolina. The fourth biggest city in North Carolina, Durham grew at the end of the 1800’s due to its prime location for the tobacco industry and is now home to just over 250,000 people. Durham has a diverse and active music scene, the Carolina Chocolate Drops are from the city, and the likes of Iron & Wine, The Mountain Goats and Megafaun are all now based there.
Jenn was born in 1986, and started making music over a decade ago in 2003. Her earliest releases as Flock Of Dimes were a trio of singles back in 2012, followed by four years of nothing. Jens is now signed to Partisan Records, and is set to release her debut album this week.
If You See Me, Say Yes is a transitional record on numerous levels, not only is it Flock Of Dimes’ debut release, it also marks Jenn’s first year living outside of her native Baltimore, living away from her family, and away from the place her entire musical career has been based. Jenn has described the record as being about, “those moments of being poised on the precipice, that feeling of diving into the new but at the same time looking back at what’s left behind.” It’s perhaps that feeling that powers this album, it’s simultaneously a record bristling with energy and ideas, but also laced with a hint of wistful nostalgia, both musically and lyrically.
Recent single, and album stand out, Semaphore, is probably the most obvious statement about this huge shift in Jenn’s life. Set to a beautiful electronic soundscape, reminiscent of Stars at their most pop-tinged, Jenn spins a tale of distance both physical and metaphorical. “We pay a very high price to be free, sometimes I wonder if it’s enough” she notes, before the stunning outro, with one of the year’s finest bass lines, engulfs her vocal and she simply repeats the line, “too far gone for semaphore.” It it, put simply, a wonderful pop song.
Elsewhere there’s some wonderfully clever musical ideas. The Kraftwerk recalling Flight, charts the excitement of putting yourself into new and dangerous situations, Jenn noting, “I am drawn to the destruction” as the urgent bass lines seems to flutter by at twice the pace of it’s fellow instruments. Birthplace pairs some skittering percussive tones with a gentle bass that seems to lag slightly behind the beat giving the whole track a gentle lurching quality. While the way …To Have No Answer, the albums closing track, reprises the opening intro, gives the whole album a coherency, while the use of field recordings, be it rain or warped and manipulated vocal clips, give it a wonderful atmospheric quality, and a humanity often missing from electronic music.
It’s very polished, but at times maybe a little too derivative, and it might even risk being that cliched, “gone electro” album. However Jenn’s natural way with a melody, and the excellent production means it always sounds wonderful.
If You See Me, Say Yes is out September 23rd via Partisan Records. Click HERE for details of all upcoming Flock Of Dimes shows.