Welcome to Jezebel Muses, a video series in which we chat with our favorite artists and they play a song or two.
I first became aware of Jenn Wasner with the 2011 release of indie rock duo Wye Oak’s breakout album Civilian, which I frantically played and replayed as I spiraled into my final self-indulgent year of college. Civilian’s mercurial title track was a special obsession; the lyrics ran around my head (“I still keep my baby teeth in a bedside table with my jewelry”) and I would occasionally try, with zero success, to mimic her runs (“jewelry-y-y-y-y”).
Since then, the prolific Wasner—who still performs in Wye Oak with bandmate Andy Stack—has been busy juggling multiple projects; in addition to Wye Oak (whose latest album, Tween, came out in August) she’s also recorded as Dungeonesse, a dancepop project with producer Jon Ehrens, as well as her solo act Flock of Dimes, whose debut LP If You See Me, Say Yes is out today. Her mournful, throaty voice is a common thread linking these pretty distinct efforts; a warm, ringing electric guitar sound tends to show up, too, although Wasner recently wrote about the somewhat gendered fawning she’s received over her ability to “shred,” having never considered herself particularly virtuosic.
If You See Me, Say Yes is electro-pop with feeling, with tracks like “Apparition” retaining some of the meandering, earnest loveliness of Wye Oak; others claim a more bombastic, anthemic style, ‘80s synth weaving a kind of Phil Collins optimism into a sound that feels both cerebral and so easy, like beachy dream memories. Wasner performed two fairly upbeat songs for us—“The Joke” and “Everything Is Happening Today”—but notched them way down to a gentle, humane scale.
“I come from a family of people that would sit around and sing together for fun. Which is the nerdiest thing imaginable, but I grew up thinking that that was kind of what everyone did,” Wasner told me on the set of our shoot. Sounds pretty great, actually—her great-grandmother encouraged her to learn piano, her mother taught her how to play guitar, and now here we are.