Somehow, we are approaching a decade since WHY?'s 2008 masterpiece Alopecia and since then time has not been kind to them. They rushed the popular-yet-flawed Eskimo Snow a year later, and followed that later with the distinctly average Mumps, Etc. in 2012. It's been a shame to see a band who at one point in the middle of the previous decade were one of the most exciting prospects to come out of American indie music, but after a wee hiatus WHY? are back with Moh Lhean and finally seem to have got some of their groove back.
WHY?'s trajectory can largely be traced by frontman Yoni Wolf's desire to move away from his hip-hop inclined roots from WHY?'s earliest and previous band cLOUDDEAD's material. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, Wolf has never quite mastered the straight up indie-folk frontman, especially when his rapping on tracks like Alopecia's Good Friday were so damn devastating.
With Moh Lhean Wolf finally seems to have taken the reigns on his excellent performances, most notably on the opening one-two gut punches of This Ole King and Proactive Evolution. Wolf has always been an intriguing prospect, with a unique turn of phrase in all his work, however applying it to indie-rock hasn't always matched up. But on tracks such as George Washington, he seems to have finally mastered it.
Textually, WHY? have always been a fascinating project, with his brother Josiah Wolf and Doug McDirmaid providing back-up rhythm, but Moh Lhean sees the band take on a more ambient role. Keys and pianos prove especially important as seen on John Lennon-esque finale The Barely Blur making WHY?'s latest a dreamier affair, easy and pleasurable enough to get lost in.
Listen to: This Ole King, Provactive Evolution, The Barely Blur