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Yoni, Josiah and co finally release their fifth album this week after teasing us with the unpredictable ‘Sod In The Seed’ EP earlier in the year. Here we see them well settled into their niche as the They Might Be Giants of the backpack hip-hop crowd, all self-deprecating introspective nerd-flows, slinky melodies and those distinctive shuffling, shimmering beats from maverick percussionist Josiah underpinning everything. On occasion they throw in gospelly backing vocals and grandiose neoclassical touches but it’s still very much the Why? you know and love.
Lyrically Yoni continues to build on that frisson between seediness and romanticism that seems to energise their best work, teasing out playful metaphors one minute, shouldering us with blunt confessionals the next, “I don’t wear rubbers and I don’t wear sunscreen/I wanna heat my hide, not hide under something/And I am not okay boys”, he muses in ‘Strawberries’, while silky Cake-meets-Bran Van 3000 (no relation) lead single ‘Sod In The Seed’ laments “I’m so numb lord, yes, despite how I’m blessed./I’m destined to end up a slum lord, depressed”. He impresses most on ‘Paper Hearts’, a skeletal rhymic cut with staccato melodies and crafty polyrhythms giving his expressive invective room to really stretch its legs.
They do opt for the occasional slow ballady type song on here which I really don’t go for, ‘Thirteen On High’ is pretty skippable for example, but for the most part this is classic Why?, a syrupy flow of chamber hip-hop-pop with playful instrumentation and an undercurrent of twisted psychedelia offset by the now-expected confessional wordplay. Fans won’t be disappointed.
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