Arriving three years after the tame and underwhelming Eskimo Snow album, the title track from this EP is a stunning return to form. Showcasing front man Yoni Wolf’s occasionally breathtaking mastery of language and rhythm, the song flies by smoothly, with a simple effective bass line high in the mix, some clanking percussion (you know those two wooden things you clanked together in music classes? That kind of clanking) and underlying keyboard notes. The song is fascinating in terms of lyrical composition, using more traditional rhyming lines like the opening “I make decent cash, I’m a minor star, and we can’t last if she don’t drive a hybrid car,” with more freewheeling assonance like, “As hundred bucks worth of wordy blogger thugs, Come forth forthwith to four seasons aflood.” Why?’s lyrics are often more to do with the way the words sound than any kind of substantial message: a mesh of surreal images and pithy quotes; but this works for them and doesn’t detract from the quality of the music.
It’s fun trying to piece together some meaning yourself anyway. To this reviewer, this first single seems to be about the uncertainty of knowing oneself, as reflected in the line “A complicated man is misunderstood, even to himself.” It’s perhaps semi-autobiographical, since he refers to himself as a minor star and laments, near
the end of the song, that the trappings of fame and fortune (cadillacs and yacht wear) are not troubling him as much as they used to. After the more traditional indie songs of Eskimo Snow, this brilliant song is refreshing and reminds the listener of how great Why? can be at times. The rest of the EP sadly fails to match the quality of Sod in the Seed, however.
Probable Cause is a fun song that has a pleasant glockenspiel part that reminds me a
little of that Hans Zimmer True Romance song. Twenty Seven has a similar great hook, but both these songs are far too short, at 1:02 and 1:45 respectively. Tracks of this length can work well on full albums, but it feels a little wasteful and fans might feel aggrieved after shelling out for this EP, especially when the title track has been released for free on Last.fm.
Why? have a great unique sound which is a mix of indie/rock/pop/rap that appeals to a very wide audience. You can appreciate the funny lyrics, sing-along choruses, good production values or simply bop along to the cheerful rhythms. This EP doesn’t alter their successful formula, which is fine, but the songs never reach such great heights either. All of the tracks here are enjoyable, well-crafted songs and they flow together nicely through some linking of each song to the next, but it does feel a little like lesser tracks packaged together- outtakes from an impending album perhaps. If you’re a Why? fan you’ll like this record and it would also serve as a good introduction for newcomers, but there’s nothing to get too excited about. In terms of value for money, just download the title track for free and you won’t have missed too much.
Words: Joe Fuller