WHY? - Moh Lhean-CD-South

WHY? - Moh Lhean

£11.99

The final words sung on the sixth album by WHY? are an apt place to begin: "Hold on, what's going on?" Because while there's much familiar about the oddly named Moh Lhean - mastermind Yoni Wolf's sour-sweet croon, his deadpan poet's drawl and ear for stunningly fluid psych-pop-folk-whatever arrangement - a great deal has changed in the four years that've passed since 2012's Mumps, Etc., an LP that honed the band's orchestral precision and self-deprecating swagger to a fine point. It's significant that this is the first fully home-recorded WHY? album since the project's 2003 debut. Made mostly in Wolf's studio and co-produced by his brother Josiah, the result is obsessive, of course, but also intimate, and flush with warmth and looseness. But the biggest transformation is a bit subtler. After years of eying his world, in part, with a cynical squint, Wolf here learns a new mode. While Moh Lhean never stoops to outright optimism, it chronicles our hero finding peace in the unknowing, trading the wry smirk for a holy shrug, and looking past corporeal pain for something more cosmic and, rest assured, equally weird. A low tone opens the album on ‰ÛÏThis Ole King‰۝ as acoustic pluck and upright bass form a Western bedrock beneath Wolf‰۪s fragile voice. But as the song pushes on, the playing gets brighter and the vocal becomes a mantra-like hum inspired by Ali Farka Tour̩‰۪s blues, before rolling into a second part rich with chiming keys and twisting harmony‰ÛÓ Brian Wilson‰۪s kaleidoscopic vision of pop. Moh Lhean‰۪s gorgeously psychedelic closer, ‰ÛÏThe Barely Blur‰۝ with Son Lux, puzzles over the nature of existence. But rather than leave us with the macabre chill of death, as many a WHY? LP has, the song dissolves into the infinite‰ÛÓthe sound of the Big Bang.

LP - indies-only blue vinyl