This new Why? release contains “Rubber Traits” off the Elephant Eyelash album released at the end of last year, using the chance to collect together some other unreleased material recorded, over the last year or so — as was the case with the group’s previous Sanddollars and Early Whitney releases.
Why? are one of the more indie/electronica acts like Dosh on the Anticon label, but are incredibly undefinable in conventional generic form. They are essentially a pop group, but more in the wondrous prefix territories of alt- or psych-.
Lead track “Rubber Traits” shows off the glorious melodies and intelligent progressions that the band are known for. Front man Yoni Wolf leads the group-tracked reserved speak-singing and then performs stronger melodic vocals as the track builds. This track also sees the addition of female backing vocals, performed by Anna Stewart. The single, though rich with major keys and chord progressions which aren’t just interesting but uplifting, definitely has a dark quality to it with lyrics like “unfold an origami deathmat”, “always be working on a suicide note” and “i want to hump gentle on a bed of nails”.
Why? records are aways full of witty and intelligent lyricism
“Rubber Traits” stands up with “Sanddollars” as having this real Beach Boys catchiness — including Brian Wilson wails at the end — but updated to the very modern, with distinctive elements of indie guitar bands like Pavement or Neutral Milk Hotel, and both electronica and hip hop. Second Track “Dumb Hummer” offers more of the same, but kicking in more upbeat right at the start, in both tempo and sound.
Why? records are aways full of witty and intelligent lyricism, similar to the hip hop projects that members of the group are related to through the Anticon collective, and these come out on the third and fourth tracks on this EP, “Pick Fights” and “Decieved”.
“Pick Fights” contains classic lines like “the opening act/some whack rapper comin off Cd/Coulda been me back before we practised for the Mush tour”. It could easily be a cLOUDDEAD track with its stipped-down, minimal electronics and piano. Closing track “Deciever” offers a beat alongside its lo-fi, fourtrack hip hop and muses for a similarly short minute or two (as with the previous track) before fading out even though the rap seems to continue on.
The second half of the EP is good but offers more than it delivers, and the EP though with a lead track as good as the best Why? tracks like “Darla” and “Sanddollars”, isn’t quite up there with the latter song’s EP from last year which offered a more expansive and impressive collection of tracks. But lets not end on a bad note, it does include a great video of the album track as a bonus and overall the Rubber Traits EP is another fantastic release from a band who are inventive, clever and incredibly listenable.