WHY? – Mumps, etc.
Alopecia and Eskimo Snow saw WHY? distance themselves from the hip-hop template that defined their earlier albums as Yoni Wolf’s neurotic drawl played second fiddle to his nasally croon. And while the results were often excellent, it’s exhilarating to hear the band return to their roots on Mumps, etc. The record is brilliantly produced and sequenced; instrumentation is rich and ornate (heavenly harps and ethereal bells abound) and the pace of proceedings, with a rapped number often followed by a sung one, helps it gel fantastically.
It’s telling that despite the aesthetic overhaul, Wolf’s self-probing wordplay steals the show once more. “I don’t wear rubbers and I don’t wear sunscreen / I wanna heat my hide, not hide under something,” goes one of the lines of the year, from Strawberries. Of the litany of highlights, the penultimate duo of Bitter Thoughts and Paper Hearts stand out, but Mumps, etc is an album to be enjoyed as a whole, again and again.