Why? Oh, Why?
It’s been merely a couple of months since WHY? dropped their EP Sod in the Seed, but the boys are back again, this time releasing a full LP of material in Mumps, Etc. Yoni Wolf once again uses WHY? as a guise to therapeutically exorcise his demons of depression, and perhaps that is where the problem lies. One thing that always made a WHY? album stand out was Wolf’s penchant for clever metaphors and not so politically correct allegories, and on Mumps. Etc., those are few and far between.
The album isn’t a total wash, though. “Waterlines” finds Yoni lamenting growing old. Lines like “Girls used to fawn over my locks to kill/Now the girls are gone and I’m on minoxidil,” and “I’d prefer to be some unknown with a sports car/than pen the dumb pun poems as a poor star,” give a glimpse into the thoughts of an aging musician, coming to terms with the path he has chosen. On “Sod In The Seed” WHY? returns to a sound reminiscent of earlier albums, albeit a tad more polished. The chorus, “I’ll never shirk this first world curse/a steady hurt and a sturdy purse” summarizes the tongue-in-cheek wordplay presented throughout the song.
“Bitter Thoughts” is a prime example of WHY? at their best. The understated drums and piano, intertwined with a solid bass line, generates a perfect storm for Yoni to vent over. It’s tracks like this that will keep fans yearning for the next release. Even if it’s just a glimmer of their former self, we’ll take it.
Mumps, Etc. isn’t as contagious as the title suggests. Quite frankly, at times it is hard to catch. For those that have been infected by prior WHY? albums, Mumps, Etc. might have a few tracks worth a listen, but overall isn’t up to par. For the casual listener, you might want to be thankful there’s a vaccination.