As many have speculated and as Yoni Wolf himself has said, the first noticeable feature of Why?’s newest release Eskimo Snow, out September 22, is that it marks a stark departure from the band’s previous material, specifically from Wolf’s hip-hop roots. But, while the album is clearly more sing-songy than any of the band’s previous albums, vestiges of hip-hop can still be found in songs like “The Blackest Purse”: “I wanna speak at an intimate decibel / with the precision of an infinite decimal.” Wolf writes as though he’s sitting in a confessional, pouring out his soul and admitting his demons to the unsuspecting listener. He once again manages to entrance his audience with his intimate revelations of embarrassing compulsions, feelings of inadequacy, and fears about aging and his own mortality—all elements present in Wolf’s past work. In “Into the Shadows of My Embrace,” Wolf admits, “I know saying all this in public should make me feel funny / but ya gotta yell something out you’d never tell nobody.”
Eskimo Snow is not as monumental as the band’s last release, Alopecia; but such a consistently solid album is a hard act to follow. While each song on Eskimo Snow has a climactic point—a compelling line or resounding concept—comparatively the album leaves the listener with less of a punch than Alopecia. Lyrically, the album feels a bit less profound and does not dig as deep as the tracks on Alopecia, and instrumentally it feels less heavy. Despite these elements that make Eskimo Snow more sedate and melancholy than Alopecia, the album is no less enjoyable than its predecessor. Yoni Wolf was kind enough to answer some questions for our readers:
Have you seen, heard, or read anything that you would like to recommend to our readers (film, art, music, literature)?
I recently read a Dave Eggers book called "What is the What" about this Sudanese guy who was a part of the lost boys. Pretty eye opening read. I've been listening to the record "Money Jungle", which is the trio of Ellington, Mingus, and Roach. Great record!
Eskimo Snow is a departure from your hip-hop past, what direction do you see the band moving in?
We aren't heading in any clear direction as such. But I do expect each record we make to sound different from the one before it. We are always at a new and different point in our lives and I would expect the songs to reflect that.
What’s your opinion on the current state of hip-hop?
I've been listening to the new Jayzee while I run. I don't like it as much as the last two (which I like very much), Eminem has gotten a lot worse over the last couple of records, Lil Wayne is getting lazy, M.F. DOOM is writing incredible raps but his production isn't that thrilling to me lately….I guess I'm not really up on all the brand new sensations.
Post-Alopecia, how has your fan base changed and are you pleased with your growing popularity and continuing positive reception?
Our concert audiences have gotten a lot bigger. That's the main thing we notice. We are very glad for that. It makes touring a lot more enjoyable when you are actually playing to some people rather than 30 dudes drinking in the back of a bar and 3 fourteen year old boys singing along up front. We are quite pleased with our audience and listeners.
Do you plan on releasing future records on Anticon?
That's the plan.
What is your songwriting process like?
Always different for each song. I haven't found a plug and chug method yet. When I do, I imagine I will be a lot more productive, but the songs will probably suffer for the lack of struggle in their inception.
We know you have the album out; are you working on anything else?
I mixed the new Themselves album with David Madson, I just finished mixing my brother Josiah's solo album, I am working on some remixes, I am working on T shirt designs, we are rehearsing for the upcoming touring, I have been doing a ton of interviews about Eskimo Snow... thats about it right now.
Review by Kat O'Hara
Interview by Kat O'Hara and Evan Weiss