Best Albums of 2009: #29, Why?'s Eskimo Snow

Rank: #29
Album: Eskimo Snow
Artist: Why?
Label: Anticon

Always up for experimentation, California's Why? has made a career weaving in-and-out of genres. However, some elements of their indie hip-hop roots were maintained at all times. This not so on the band's fourth release, Eskimo Snow though. Instead of off-beat, admittedly un-gangster rap, Why? treads gently on Eskimo Snow. It's a guitar and piano oriented indie showcase, chock-full of all the standard conventions we've come to expect of the genre, with a psych-folk twist. But how did we get here?

Honest to a fault, Why's Yoni Wolf takes a heartfelt, vulnerable approach to songwriting here, and the results could either change the group forever or just be a fun side note a decade from now. Wolf trades off between seriously damaged ("This Blackest Purse") and nonsensical ("On Rose Walk, Insomniac"), expressing frustration with his upbringing, and his current life. It's not depressing, but rather, just a light commentary. For the most part, Wolf stops every song from plunging too far, teasing listeners with the surface of the emotions contained within his solemn crooning. It takes real talented artists to pull off a change as stark as this one, but Wolf and his cohorts achieve it with flying colors, and deliver an emotionally-driven pop record full of intrigue and even an air of mystery too.

Best Track: "Even the Good Wood Gone"

[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #30 Röyksopp's Junior]

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