Why?
Eskimo Snow


3.0
good

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
September 10th, 2009 | 45 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On Eskimo Snow, Why? is a band unsure of itself, half wishing to be taken seriously, half wishing to hide behind its usual mask of sarcasm.

Yoni Wolf gives away the mystery of Eskimo Snow pretty immediately in the record: that he’ll be ”Facing history with little to no irony.” The thing is, the irony is exactly what made Why? fun in the first place. Up till now, one of the only reasons to listen to Why? was Wolf’s keenly sarcastic sense of humor. The success of Why?’s last album, Alopecia, was absolutely contingent on his white Jew faux-gangsta persona, for behind it, Yoni could drop rhymes about sexual addiction and inherited ethnic phobias as glibly as if they were bitches and hos. His insecurities made the album fascinating yet it seemed he always had his shit together; when self confidence faltered, he could escape in his music, dressing up his anxiety in a skirt that would always please, always get attention, even at the expense of respect. But on Eskimo Snow, the irony’s gone. Yoni’s cheeky humor is replaced with half-sincerity, his beats substituted for balladry, and the results are strangely uncomfortable.

Recorded at the same time as Alopecia, Eskimo Snow is being pushed as Why?’s “serious album,” and while that’s a fairly accurate description, it doesn’t bode well for a band so dependent on its humor. Like watching a funnyman do serious drama, Eskimo Snow quite simply does not sit right. This would hold true for even the virgin Why? listener; Yoni’s notoriously unprofessional voice does not suit pianos and harmonies so much as it does car stereos and friends with ironic senses of humor. Constantly, Wolf uses quirky lyrics to set up lukewarm punchlines, but the oddly generic-indie-rock aesthetic on Eskimo Snow makes it seem like Yoni wants to be taken seriously.

Toeing this line, his voice lends itself less to honest poignancy and more to embarrassing parody. On “Even the Good Wood Gone,” Yoni delivers a stream of masturbation and penis jokes, but unlike on Alopecia’s “Good Friday,” he’s really just making masturbation and penis jokes. Under the veil of maturity that lies over the entire record, it feels flat and insincere. No one can fault Why? for wanting to grow up, but Eskimo Snow listens like they don't know if they really want to or not. The first half of this album embodies this quandary perfectly, because for every great deep and introspective tune Yoni pens, there’s a poor one too. It makes Eskimo Snow maddening. While the first half closes with “Into the Shadows of My Embrace,” one of the act’s strongest songs to date, the preceding section of the album’s a mess, constantly fighting between its desire to be smart indie rock and to be kooky.

The second half of the album is much more consistent if you still feel like listening, but beyond a spare moment or two (“This Blackest Purse” is surprisingly touching), most of Eskimo Snow is easily surpassed by other songs from Why?’s catalogue. About half of Alopecia did the melodic introspection thing much better, and the sound of Elephant Eyelash is almost too far removed from this to be compared. What’s emerged on Eskimo Snow is a band unsure of itself, half wishing to be taken seriously, half wishing to hide behind its sarcasm, but always, always but held back by the limitations of Wolf’s skill as a song writer. Sometimes Eskimo Snow is fitting of Why?’s name, for when Wolf puts down the recycled gag lines, his introspection goes beyond his usual snide deflection and into snide pondering of existence. On “This Blackest Purse,” he uses his distinct voice to sound honest, begging “Mom, am I failing or worse?” It’s a beautiful moment on Eskimo Snow, one of the few things from this hodgepodge that actually sticks. But in terms of this album, the answer to his question is: Yes, it is a failure. But it could be worse.



Recent reviews by this author
Beach Slang Cheap Thrills On A Dead End StreetThe Men Tomorrow's Hits
Macintosh Plus FLORAL SHOPPEThe Dismemberment Plan Uncanney Valley
Justin Timberlake The 20/20 ExperienceThe Men New Moon
user ratings (77)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Skyler
September 10th 2009


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Never really understood the appeal of these guys. Some people really love them though, apparently.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2009


17222 Comments


I've yet to see why people like Why?. Good review

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

review's kind of early for the release date, but I really wanted to review something cuz I haven't in a while and come September 22nd, no one would be caring about this what with DAISY coming out.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Gyromania
September 10th 2009


15941 Comments


good review adam. what did you rate alopecia?


"but I really wanted to review something cuz I haven't in a while and come September 22nd, no one would be caring about this what with DAISY coming out."

but daisy sucks... lol, i won't start that up again. who has staff review of that? chan?


Digging: Lantlos - .neon

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ryan does

and alopecia is a 3.5-4

joshuatree
Emeritus
September 10th 2009


3742 Comments


cover art makes me not want to listen to this

handoman
September 10th 2009


2386 Comments


i love elephant eyelash


Roach
September 10th 2009


2148 Comments


I really enjoy Alopecia but beyond that Why? don't really click with me.

MassiveAttack
September 10th 2009


2688 Comments


I felt Alopecia was overrated only gave it a 3, I may check this out later on though. Nice review Adam.

killrobotmusic
September 10th 2009


670 Comments


I liked two songs on Alopecia. Sounds like I should avoid this.

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 10th 2009


4461 Comments


yeah, I could never really get into Why? either, they're more hit and miss with me. Good review as per usual.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2009


6094 Comments


Album should be interesting cause it's just weirdly all over the place but ends up being pretty flat. The worst offender is easily "Into the Shadow of My Embrace" and it's still the best track. "This Blackest Purse" is icky tho.

Kiran
Emeritus
September 11th 2009


6001 Comments


I wanted this to be good : (

PanasonicYouth
September 11th 2009


7411 Comments


half wishing to hide behind it's usual mask of sarcasm.


needs to be its
just saying

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fixd thanks

PuddlesPuddles
September 11th 2009


4784 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really enjoy Alopecia but beyond that Why? don't really click with me.


ditto

Kyle
September 11th 2009


667 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is a real grower I think. I was dissapointed at first, but have grown to like it quite a lot.

Waior
September 11th 2009


11454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I will look elsewhere for extended Why? exposure.

PuddlesPuddles
September 11th 2009


4784 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Alopecia I'd say. The Vowels Part II got me hooked on that album. And Elephant Eyelash isn't too shabby

EDIT: Actually, I seriously doubt you would like them

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

why not? he's very very white



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy