By Brittany Leitner
Why? is perhaps most famous for being impossible to place into a genre. Regardless of whether they are making a self-proclaimed rap album (Elephant Eyelash), or heading more alternative with the “least hip-hop” album of their career, Eskimo Snow, one thing remains at the core of every album: great fucking writing.
In Why?’s newest album, Mumps, Etc., singer Yoni Wolf dubs himself “The Dr. of ramble and word scramble” and later exposes it as a curse when he sings, “I’d prefer to be some unknown with a sports car/than pin the dumb pun poems of a poor star,” in the song “Waterlines.”
Similar to 2008’s Alopecia, Mumps, Etc. bleeds each song into the next, making it difficult to be conscious of a song change. Like all albums, Mumps, Etc. features Wolf’s signature gloomy, yet intelligent take on life, but the multiple standout lines in each track suggests an intense maturity in Wolf as a rap/indie lyricist. In “Thirteen on High” Wolf sings in his signature nasal-arpeggio style, “I am obliterated/get close and be frustrated.” And “I gotta keep my distance to withstand/the silence of you missing/when you’re not there to listen/to this nonsense” in “Distance.” The rap delivery of the lines and subtle beat pushing the lyrics along push Wolf’s message to sink in.
For the first time in Why? history fans can detect a female voice adding “mmms” and “oohhs” to most of the tracks. For Mumps, Etc. Why? adopted new band mate, Liz Wolf, the wife of drummer (and Yoni’s brother) Josiah Wolf. While it may seem like a family affair, Why? is still very much an expression of Yoni who remains a solo songwriter. The band is currently touring in Europe and will be back in the states toward the end of October.