"...a cabinet of curiosities"

Crawling out of the shadows of Yoni Wolf’s imagination comes ‘Eskimo Snow’, a bruised, beguiling partner to Why?’s last offering, ‘Alopecia’.

The two albums were recorded during the same sessions at Minneapolis’ Third Ear Studio, however, where ‘Alopecia’’s darkness was leavened by a sense of defiance, this record is more pensive, the earlier optimism calcifying into something close to resignation. What’s more, ‘Eskimo Snow’ sees the band edge further away from the hip-hop fringed art-pop of their early years into folksier, more melodic and melancholic terrain.

At times the black undertow threatens to pull Wolf under, be it on the country guitar whine of ‘Even The Good Wood Gone’, the plaintive ‘One Rose’ or ‘Berkeley By Hearseback’. The latter’s sweetly meandering folk tune unfurls under bleak skies - “These tits not filled with milk / These cold bones wrapped in hunger”, imparts the frontman in that inimitably strangled holler. His willingness to confess all - be it musings mercurial, or details lurid makes him a captivating wordsmith. On the freak-pop ‘Into The Shadows Of My Embrace’ Wolf tells us that, “I think my upstairs neighbour hears me masturbating” before acknowledging, “I know saying all this in public should make me feel funny”.

‘Against Me’ pitches contemplations of the absurd - “They say electricity can travel up your piss-stream” - against universal ponderings - “Out of all the women in the world who will I mate with?”. Musically too, the album is a cabinet of curiosities. Americana, pop and psychedelic sounds are recognisable, but skewed like reflections in a funfair mirror.

Ultimately then, ‘Eskimo Snow’ proves itself a worthy companion piece to ‘Alopecia’ and there can be no higher commendation than that.

8/10

Words by Francis Jones
-

Follow Clash: