The alt hip-hop group returns for their fifth studio album which just so happens to be their first album in five years. With this release we are greeted with a slightly different side of Why?, a softer side. Usually there are at least a few tracks on any given album of theirs that hit hard and have some edges both lyrically and in delivery (e.g., “The Hollows” on Alopecia and “Paper Hearts” on Mumps, Etc.). The closest we get to that harsh side would be the first two tracks “This Ole King” and “Proactive Evolution”. Personally, this is a welcomed fresh development for their sound, because the production is still very consistent with the rest of their discography.
The opening track is a very multi-faceted track with warm guitar tones and earthy, yet crisp, percussion textures. Yoni Wolf crafts the tracks throughout the album to slide one to the next quite well and in his own style. Fantastic use of reverb and vocal production throughout most of the album; stand out examples of this would be in the ethereal backing vocals on “Proactive Evolution”, the pitched down vocals in “January February March”, and the majority of “The Water”. Another reoccurring feature of the album would be the ever unique percussion Why? brings to the table.
The track “George Washington” has a great swing in the chorus melody and dominos-falling sensation in the rhythm that eventually take off about mid-way through and really flourish with a fuzz guitar swell. The track dies off into what almost feels like the band was simply rehearsing. This would be another piece of the puzzle; its unpolished quality. I do not mean this as a negative at all! It’s unpolished in that it feels sincere, like it’s coming from a very genuine place.
Yoni shows his vulnerable side in “The Water”, which features what appears to be a journal entry almost with such lyrics as “I have tried, in my way, to make things right.” and the repeating of “I’m trying” as the song bleeds out with a distorted riff humming along. In “Consequence of Nonaction” we’re treated to a tender, semi-sappy, Why? style ballad. Possibly the best lyric on the album is in this track, “You’re all the way more beautiful than a photograph of you.”
The album comes to a close with yet another slow song centered around perfectly presented piano. It’s very relaxed with a slight crescendo and a fade off into nothingness. All-in-all a very solid album of warm songs with tremendous textures.
Words by Jake Swan @JakeDSwan
Favorite Tracks: “This Ole King”, “George Washington”, and “Consequence of Nonaction”