WHY? is a Californian indie hip-hop band that shocked and startled the music scene with its complete and utter determination to defy conventional labelling. With the band’s fusion of avant-garde hip-hop, and quirky indie rock, WHY?’s modus operandi seemed to be refusing to conform to a set of rules.
So when WHY?’s front man and founder, Yoni Wolf, announced that the band’s fourth studio album, Eskimo Snow, would be the least hip-hop of anything he has ever done, listeners began to worry.
The songs on Eskimo Snow were recorded during the same sessions as WHY?’s critically acclaimed third album, Alopecia. The album retains the lyrical magic and distinctive if not eerie soundscapes that WHY? is known and loved for. However, it unfortunately lacks the cohesiveness of WHY?’s earlier releases. Alopecia acted as a manifestation of post-adolescent angst and sorrow. The album went far beyond heartbreak and self-loathing to examine the desperation and confusion that a relationship can leave in its wake. WHY?’s second album, Elephant Eyelash possessed a list of songs that also covered the requisite topics of anguish and heartache, but instead shed a joyful light on the otherwise sombre realities of modern life.
WHY?’s fondness for vague references and intricate if not maniacal lyrics has created both shocking triumphs and meaningless experimental pastiches. After all, there’s a fine line between enthralling poetry and pretentious drivel. Regrettably this time however, WHY? has slipped into the latter.
Eskimo Snow lacks passion and sincerity – and this time around, Wolf’s crazed declarations of betrayal and loss come across as bitter and uninspired. The songs of Eskimo Snownever quite reach the high standard WHY? usually achieves. Mr. Wolf sounds awkward without being especially endearing. He is simply not as sophisticated or as excitingly chaotic as he once seemed to be.
WHY? has created a disappointingly safe album of reasonably enjoyable indie songs. Considering WHY?’s previous flirtations with hip-hop, and the ambiguous yet refreshingly unique genre the band seemed to inhabit, one expected a lot more. Eskimo Snow just fails to deliver.
MP3 Stream: “This Blackest Purse”