Why? – Eskimo Snow
Record Label: Anticon.
Release Date: September 22, 2009
It wouldn’t be totally stupid of you to assume something of me. Yes, I’m happy right now. Yes, it’s because a new Why? album has come much quicker than I ever imagined. And although it isn’t as instantly arresting as last year’s Alopecia, Eskimo Snow – it was recorded in the same session as Alopecia – still has more than enough lyrical wizardry and sound kaleidoscopes to keep me hoping that they keep releasing albums from that same, now mythical session. These songs didn’t make the initial cut because, it was said, that they possessed a “different vibe.” I’m paraphrasing, but not because I don’t agree. Eskimo Snow’s best songs are much less poppy, which is in stark contrast to the faux sugariness of “These Few Presidents” or “By Torpedo or Crohn’s.” Here, the piano and calculated sparseness go a long way (“Against Me”), but if you’re still really here to see what Mr. Yoni Wolf will say next, you’ve come to the right place: “I conquered my own childhood silence / and now the world is my lit confessional marquee / but it’d take a busload of high school soccer girls / to wash those hospitals off me.” Case: rested.
Before you go crying bias and fanboy and check-his-lower-back-for-tattoos, understand that this wasn’t a review written in an instant of spoken word bliss. In fact, I found myself scrutinizing Eskimo Snow to the point that I had to cut myself off. I cold turkeyed my fix before the chorus of “This Blackest Purse” went from being cutesy and jangly to excruciatingly depressing (“Mom, am I failing or worse?”). This sabbatical helped in more way than one, because my former least favorite song (“One Rose” and it’s drum n’ bass vibe) quickly worked its way up the list. I even became to like the section of the song when Wolf repeatedly harkens “back” to Alopecia with the line, “Looks like a sky for shoeing horses under.”
As you no doubt have noticed, this is a review chock full of “I heard” or “To me” or even “It speaks to me as.” Even for me (there I go again!), it may seem excessive. This could be because I love that I love this record, or because that’s what Why? is all about. Nobody delves deeper into his own soul like Yoni Wolf. At a certain point of letting songs like the childish tinkling on “Berkeley By Hearseback” wash over and over and over, it seems only natural to step back and examine how this all can relate to you. Eskimo Snow is especially relatable because of the relaxing vibe left by its piano fetish. But Wolf has also taken a step back, as well as a deep breath, and given us more pearls to examine. For instance he says, “Flowers are how plants laugh,” and I’m like, “Ha, yeah, that’s true.” (And then, of course, I think about a certain Silver Jews song with the line, “Where does an animal sleep when the ground is wet?” and I’m like, “Huh, I have no idea!” But really, that’s irrelevant.) Each word could be its own painting, and that makes Eskimo Snow a mammoth in the replay value department.
Point is, after a Why? album we can’t help but think. Maybe we’re contemplating the notes that have just stopped, or maybe we’ve moved on to something completely different. It’s in these post-coital moments when we have a chance to make the grandest connections about our lives. Why? does that for me, especially on “This Blackest Purse”, and maybe they can have an impact on you. Or not. What do I know.
Recommended If You Like: cLOUDDEAD, 13 & God, early semi-retirement, Themselves, leather
Great review! I love this album.. It took me a listen or two to "get it" but the vibe through out the entire album is spot on.. well executed and damn catchy. "This Blackest Purse" is my favorite track.
definitely took me in a spin the first and only time I've heard it, but I think it'll grow on me. The tracks on Alopecia that I didn't like at first grew on me so much that many of them became my favorite. Good review Blake.
The last two tracks on the album are possibly the best two songs I've heard this year. Other then that, I'd take all the other WHY? full lengths over this. However, it's great record, don't let me fool you.
I feel like Why? can do whatever they want. If the record is bad, it's not because they didn't do something awesome. This is my favorite "new" band of the last five or so years. I can't say enough good things about them.