Album review: WHY?

WHY? - Moh Lhean (Joyful Noise Recordings)

Josiah and Yoni Wolf of WHY?

Josiah and Yoni Wolf of WHY?

THERE ARE few more individual, yet conversely definitive, voices in American indie than WHY? founder/leader/singer Yoni Wolf, and his brilliance and ambition as a songwriter, indeed composer, is writ large on Moh Lhean.

If previous albums tended towards hipster swagger and a sense of cynicism, calmness and peace dominate an album created during and after a severe health scare. Hence, this is music not so much for the feet, but for the mind and the soul.

The experience of recovery from illness makes sense of 'The Water', a poignant story of reconciliation between siblings, a short story in miniature; while the haunting chant which concludes 'One Mississippi', "I know, I know, I got to submit to whatever it is in control" just might be the closest indie, normally fiercely secular, comes to spiritual/religious music.

The album is possessed of strong atmospherics and ambience, which float, swirl, and colour the guitar figures and subtle rhythms. They feel like both a giant sigh of relief, and deep steadying breath. Indeed nowhere is this more apparent than in closing track, 'The Barely Blur', where the near-choral declarations of "Hold on, what's goin' on?" began as apprehensive, before concluding as peaceful, hymnal gratitude for the opening of new possibilities.

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