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AU60: Why? album review

November 17, 2009

Biggest disappointment of the year, hands down. 😦 It does, however, contain one of my favourite songs of 2009 in ‘This Blackest Purse’. Give it a listen down at the bottom of the post.

WHY?
ESKIMO SNOW
TOMLAB

Forgive me for diving headlong into the first person here, but I wanted to love this record so much. Maybe too much. Why?’s last album Alopecia was my favourite of 2008 – it was pure perfection, full of charm, wit, intelligence, raw honesty, unforgettable lyrics and the best marriage of hip-hop grooves to slacker-pop songwriting since Odelay. So when I discovered that another record was to be plucked from the same sessions, my expectations for Eskimo Snow became unattainably high Or so it has proved, because unfortunately there are only a few songs here good enough to have made it onto Alopecia and that, while acknowledging that the two albums are strikingly different in style, mood and tone (Eskimo Snow is dark and introspective, almost an alt. country record), constitutes a real disappointment.

Yoni Wolf is incapable of writing poor lyrics and his unique style, heavy on arresting imagery and dextrous wordplay, is fully intact here, but for large parts the songs are not. In deciding which ones went where, Wolf appears to have overplayed his hand, overloading Alopecia with his best stuff. It’s not all bad news, mind you, because penultimate song ‘This Blackest Purse’ is gorgeous, affecting and one of Wolf’s best, while bookends ‘These Hands’ and the title track are almost painfully tender and ‘One Rose’ and ‘Against Me’ have much to recommend them. But although the two albums share the same genes, it’s clear which one is the black sheep of the family.

6/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘THIS BLACKEST PURSE’, ‘THESE HANDS’, ‘ONE ROSE’
FOR FANS: SILVER JEWS, BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY, GRANDADDY.

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