Why? - Elephant Eyelash
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Elephant Eyelash

The Anticon crew have never been ones to create hip-hop according to what is expected of the genre, and Why? is no different. In fact, one could argue that on his past couple releases he's very nearly created an entirely new genre that is grounded in indie rock, but dips into hip-hop and several other genres for something that's refreshing and unique (but maybe a bit frustrating for fans of one genre or the other without an open mind to accept the other). Elephant Eyelash is no different, with Why? pulling together all his previous influences into something even more focused and cohesive.

The release follows up closely on the Sanddollars EP, which came out only a couple months back, but is leaps and bounds beyond that effort in most respects. Yes, the almost nonsensical, stream-of-consciousness lyrics are still there, but the sense of songwriting, melody, and even depth of instrumentation has been expanded upon. "Crushed Bones" opens the release with lyrics that seem to touch on past drug abuse, and the song lopes along with skittery programmed beats and some dense layers of guitars while "Yo Yo Bye Bye" opens with pretty ambience and piano melodies with almost slurring vocals before chugging into almost bombastic refrains that drive home the odd (and often clever) lyrics even more.

Tracks just keep on throwing out interesting bits after that, with "Rubber Traits" dropping some of the weirdest lyrics of the album alongside some chopped-up indie guitar instrumentation while "The Hoofs" drops glittery chimes and squiggling electronics alongside acoustic guitars and the nasally vocals of Yoni Wolf (one of four members of Why?). One of the highlights of the entire album, though, is the insanely poppy (and catchy) "Gemini (Birthday Song)," which drops lyrics that reference the album title. As with just about every track, the actual lyrics are nearly indecipherable, but they (and the instrumentation) are absolutely buoyant in terms of overall feel, and the joyous tracks is easily one of the best things that Why? has done to date.

Once "Sanddollars" (from the aforementioned EP) hits, the album takes a distinct turn towards more straightforward sounds, and the overall release suffers a bit. For several tracks in a row, the album takes on a much more straightforward indie rock feel with a few strange bits and the typically odd vocals and lyrics thrown in for good measure. Coming after the inventive and infectious opening seven tracks, it's a bit of a letdown finish. That said, I've still got to give Why? some props for continuing to defy any genre boundaries in throwing hip-hop, folk, indie rock, and a dash of electronics in the cuisinart and molding the final concoction into something so darn great at times.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2005-10-06 00:01:00