Friday, March 14, 2008

Why? - Alopecia

(03.2008, Anticon)
Verdict = Awesome Music, Awkward Lyrics

For those familiar, Why?, the rapper turned band is the apex of indie pop fused with left field hip hop. On Alopecia, the bands third LP, Why? has moved divisively between being simultaneously more accessible and less. Musically, Alopecia is absolutely amazing. Gorgeous, downbeat indie pop anchored by a powerful rhythm section. Instrumentally Why? is better than ever with a record that is impossible not to nod to. The improvement on an already good thing was likely influenced by guest band members Andrew Broder and Mark Erickson borrowed from Fog. Even the vocals (whose lyrics I’ll address shortly) by lyricist Yoni Wolf have the perfect tenor and flow to match the lush backdrop. Tonally, Alopecia is pitch-perfect. Lyrically, Why? has always been odd but somehow kept from becoming uncomfortably bizarre. On Alopecia that has changed. First off, Wolf seems super depressed with multiple allusions to death and suicide. It seems with this tongue in cheek desperation he has also caused a dropped guard on some otherwise awkward lyrics. About on level with some of the jarringly descriptive lyrics you would find on a Xiu Xiu album, some of the phrasing seems unnecessarily leaning towards shock art. Personally this has created quite a bit of confusion because, while being absolutely elated with the album otherwise, reoccurring verses seem to pop out and kind of taint their songs. Perhaps such verses were purposely placed to sift out the wusses (yeah, totally me), but I can’t help but wish that I could be a wuss and still like Why? I mean I do ‘still like Why?,’ it’s just…you know, awkward.

-Mr. Thistle

Why? on Myspace


Justin Snow said...

I've mostly heard nothing but praise for Alopecia. I haven't listened to it yet myself but it's good to hear another side of the story.

Al1 said...

Which verses made you feel like a wuss? Stuff like "so eww, I thought I'd go back to get my money/but all of my homies warned me/OH NO those gypsys probably got knives" shows to me that Wolf is not really taken it too seriously. Perhaps I don't feel that it's as dark as you do.

Mr. Thistle said...

Actually, the wuss factor might also translate to prudism: lyrics about extensive masterbation and watching people have sex are two that come to mind. Serious or not, for me it slightly derails the songs.

Father Mother said...

I admit, I was a little taken back the first time I heard Wolf say "In Berlin I saw two men fuck in a dark corner of a basketball court," but now, the lyrics are one of my favorite parts of the album. I think you just have to embrace the discomfort.