Sub-bizarro indie-rap doesn’t live up to genre-mashing Elephant Heights

    Why?
    Eskimo Snow
    Anticon
    6/10

    Yoni Wolf has a mean obsession with sex and death, and 2008’s indie-rap opus Alopecia had him as neurotic and morbid as ever. The Oakland-helmed Why? visionary leaked his grotesque yet hilarious mind over image-heavy lines about jerking off in art museums and sleeping on his back because it was good “coffin rehearsal” — fashioning himself into a darker musical equivalent of art-rap’s Woody Allen.

    But Eskimo Snow, the group’s latest collection, is more subdued. Lead single “This Blackest Purse” has all the familiar themes — the live piano and warm drum-kit instrumentation, and Wolf’s trademark nasal whine, of course — but lacks playfully dense lyrics of “Fatalist Palmistry” caliber.

    It feels like the foursome needed this record to catch their breath before diving headlong into their next masterpiece, and it’s hard to fault Wolf for not attempting self-set records of weirdo wordplay.

    Jangly acoustic anthem “One Rose” sees him crooning like a wizened folk rocker with nothing left to prove, more comfortable in his thick skin after Alopecia. Similarly, guitar licks and drum fills take fewer risks here, with only an occasional twang or strange chord to complement the natural production.

    The only exception is harmless followup “On Rose Walk, Insomniac,” which pairs a warping keyboard turn-off with the lines “Dead clover dead clover/ One mongoose/ One cobra.” Thankfully, this misstep is only two minutes long.

    The singer-songwriter bent continues with the airy and organic “Berkeley by Hearseback,” a pleasant folk-guitar jam with Biblical winks laced into Wolf’s own bare confessional. By the post-rock title-track finale, we’re left as tired as Why? seem to be after their recent prolific bout. Truly, Snow serves as an artistic cleansing of sorts — necessary for Wolf’s psyche, but ultimately trailing off like a journal entry from one particularly boring day.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $2500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $2500
    Contributed
    Our Goal