Why? - Mumps, etc. (3 stars)

Yoni Wolf’s hipster-friendly fourth album is inventive but lacks heart

comments
Why? - Mumps, etc.

Yoni Wolf – part-founder of indie label Anticon and band leader of alt hip hop ensemble Why? – is the very definition of a musical hipster. He sports thick-rimmed glasses and a moustache; he crams high and low-brow references cheek by jowl into his lyrics; he shows a nonchalant disregard for the conventions of rap and indie-folk by mashing them together. This approach to music-making can often result in quirky arrangements and a refreshingly askew take on the world, but Yoni’s dispassionate detachment from his material – an enthusiasm for anything is anathema to hipsterism – means very few of the tracks on most recent album, Mumps, etc, have any staying power.

‘Sod in the Seed’ and ‘Paper Hearts’ are the two stand-out exceptions to the rule. The first (a former EP title track) strikes up a poppy tempo and throws up some funny lyrics (‘I can tell by your polo slacks, bagels and blank stares / [...] but who am I to judge a man's heart by his yacht wear?’), while the latter has Wolf spitting out bitter rants about a tired relationship in a rare display of emotion (‘During sex I might put us in some joke positions / But it's scary, always how we end up in mission’). Both tracks also distinguish themselves from the rest by maintaining steady rhythms; elsewhere, it’s all tempo changes and dropped beats, with a profusion of xylophones, harps, cellos, woodwinds and snatches of choral singing thrown into the mix in a desperate attempt at eclecticism. Mumps, etc is not offensively scatter-shot but it’ll take a few dozen listens before you’re humming along with any of it.

WHY? - 'Mumps, etc.' Album Cover Shoot

WHY? - Bitter Thoughts (Official Video)

WHY? - Strawberries (Official Video)

Why? and Young Fathers

Berkeley hip-hop/indie outfit, fronted by Yoni Wolf, who are part of the Anticon stable. With support from an infectious Edinburgh trio who throw in some formation dance moves for free.

Comments

Post a comment