Vinyl LP Record
Two years after wooing critics with their beloved Elephant Eyelash, Why? returns, third LP in hand. As expected, the band-- Yoni Wolf, Josiah Wolf, Doug McDiarmid-- continues its calculated blitzkrieg on that self-made jangle-rap, indie pop 'n' roll genre, but the stakes are raised. The boys returned to their Midwest roots for Alopecia, hunkering down in Minneapolis's Third Ear studio and inducting a pair of venerable big guns into the band: Fog mastermind Andrew Broder and bassist Mark "Bear" Erickson. Throwing their samplers to the wind (mostly), Why? recorded live as a five-piece. By the time the core trio returned to Oakland (where Thee More Shallows' D. Kessler engineered a final session), they'd amassed their most immediate and cohesive batch of songs to date.Throughout Alopecia, Why? further pushes the edges of its sound, mastering mood on the time-shifting "The Song of the Sad Assassin," going ghostly with Kessler on a textured death rattle called "Gnashville," and inflating the warped buoyancy of Elephant Eyelash via "Fatalist Palmistry." Likewise, Wolf has honed his poems, evidenced by "The Fall of Mr. Fifths"-- a twisted rap hinting at an inner Mr. Hyde--the sleepy existentialism of "Brook & Waxing," the oral illustration offered by "A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under" and the complex cadences found in "Twenty-Eight." Before Alopecia is brought to its eerie end (the suicide-probing outro, "Exegesis") we're given one more offering of reverse rap braggadocio. "By Torpedo or Crohn's" grooves like a mid-'90s gangsta BBQ jam and peaks with a recurring line from Alopecia: "While I'm alive/I'll feel alive." It's a fitting final thought, even for an album as complex as this-- that the perfect antithesis to the blunt finality of death is nothing more than claiming the lifeblood that is already yours.