We’re just a few short weeks away from the release of Moh Lehan, the new record from U.S group WHY? led by the haunted poet Yoni Wolf. They’re a bit of an unknown name here in Australia, which is rather surprising due to their sheer volume of work over the years, the lyrical and songwriting prowess of Yoni Wolf and the musical talents of his band. Yoni started his career as a member of the trip-hop pioneers cLOUDDEAD who paved the way for a lot of the alternative rap that would come to light in the early and mid 2000’s. One of the strongest elements of cLOUDDEAD‘s work was the odd, observational lyrics they boasted. This has always been perhaps the strongest suit of Yoni Wolf. An introductory line from our track of the day, ‘Proactive Evolution’ reads – “feeling for an exit, with fingers stiff as branches, of a tiny bonsai birch, bark falling off in strips, leaving nude wood white, so bright in raw scar glow.” The man has poetic sensibilities which bring every day objects, in this case a bonsai tree, into a very human light – this allows for true emotional investment in his musings.
‘Proactive Evolution’ is one of three tracks to have been released from WHY?‘s upcoming 6th studio album, and like the other two numbers, ‘One Mississipi’ and ‘This Ole King’ it leans more toward Yoni‘s songwriting sensibilities than his rap ones. This see-sawing between two musical pillars has become something of a hallmark of Yoni Wolf‘s career, and it has resulted in some vastly different releases. 2012’s Mumps, Etc leant more towards rap, while its predecessor, Eskimo Snow was full of balladry and fantastic songwriting. Over his many years in the industry, Yoni has managed to hone each of these styles to a staggering extent. The overall style of Moh Lehan is yet to be determined, and we can’t wait to see where his delivery is sitting come the album’s release on March 3rd. There is a certain sense of optimism which laces these new songs, something which hasn’t featured on much of the past work of WHY? which tended to have a more sombre edge to it.
Perhaps an acquired taste, but with undeniable quality nonetheless, it is utterly baffling that WHY? have not received the level of recognition that they truly deserve here in Australia. Perhaps the release of Moh Lehan will change this.
Check out the three released cuts from Moh Lehan below, including our track of the day, ‘Proactive Evolution’