Moh Lhean marks the triumphant return of Why? After almost five years since their last full length release Why? still occupy their own sonic space and defy easy categorization. Certainly their strongest album since Alopecia, the most exciting part of this release is that it finds front man Yoni Wolf with a refreshing new outlook on life. All of Why?’s previous albums were connected lyrically by cynicism and “TMI” but on Moh Lhean shock value and self depreciation is replaced by honest introspection and a wistful sense of wonder. This is also the bands first fully home recoded album since 2003 and the production is incredibly clean and lush. As a whole there is a feeling of rejuvenation running through these tracks.
The opening track “This Ole King” begins with an acoustic guitar and an atmosphere that swells into a crisp drumbeat and counter melody. Yoni enters with his distinct nasally voice and tongue twisting abstract lyrics. Instantly it is notable how much prettier his voice sounds than we have been accustomed to. The chorus hits with a tambourine and addition of female backing vocals in a way reminiscent of old songs like “Good Friday”. The interplay between the voices here is unique and very catchy and the lyrics are memorable. “This Ole King” is a great opener and sets the right tone for the whole album.
The next two tracks are both stellar and make for a great run of songs. The chorus in “Proactive Evolution” is similar to “This Ole King” both featuring the back and forth between male and female vocals and the song ends with trippy layering of bits of speech. “Easy” is certainly a contender for best song on the album, the piano sounds beautiful and the arrangement is dreamy and captivating with voices, woodwinds and synths swirling around seamlessly. The chorus is one of the catchiest on any Why? album.
After the impressive streak of the first three songs there is a quick interlude with pitch-shifted vocals that flows effortlessly into another excellent track. After here the album starts to lull. There is a short instrumental with squiggly crackly synth and four more good songs. Nothing is wrong with any of the songs but after loaded first half nothing stands out as a highlight. The arrangements and percussion are diverse and complicated throughout and the songs all flow together making for an engaging and enjoyable listen. Even if it is top heavy Moh Lhean is a great album that leaves you ready for their next release.
By: Brandon McKie