By Devon Hannan, Features Editor
[Joyful Noise; 2017]
Key Tracks: “This Ole King,” “George Washington,” “The Water”
Who, what, when, where and WHY? First things first, WHY? isn’t hip hop anymore. Moh Lhean may drop the ingenuity that WHY? created so well, yet Yoni Wolf continues to impress. It’s safe to say that Wolf isn’t reinventing genres like he had in previous releases; however, he is reinventing himself.
While Moh Lhean is no Alopecia, it’s just as honest. On first listen, some tracks may seem to drag. With that being said, it’s definitely not as catchy as many of his preceding albums, but his lyricism speaks volumes. In combination with great instrumental rise and fall, Moh Lhean has just enough to make the listener revisit key moments and come to terms with the fact that Wolf is taking the indie track; It’s different but equally as great.
The utterly beautiful piano sequences in “Easy,” even without Wolf’s lyricism, capture the frigidness of moving on and letting go. Moh Lhean gradually changes from light and delicate instrumentation to a robust and solid indie powerhouse of emotion, all while never losing sight of what’s important: truth and cleverness. For example, the driving bass lines in “The Water” grasp a perfect groove averse to its connotation of deep-rooted failure in kin relationships. Like a meticulously wrapped package, just as gradually as the album builds, it begins to recede into the waves of soft melodies.
Wolf’s interesting decision to include two very short instrumental tracks gives the album ample flow amongst everything he has to say. Providing the perfect transition into “George Washington,” “The Longing Is All” creatively adds enough flavor to tie in the driving beat behind its proceeding track. Wolf’s refusal to cut corners only amplifies his ability as an artist. While the album isn’t cohesive in concept, it is jointly cohesive in thought and production.
Moh Lhean may not be exactly what every WHY? fan is looking for, but it may be what every WHY? fan needs. The change complements Yoni Wolf’s discography and his ability to bridge two completely different genres. While still keeping unique synths and experimentation, Wolf carries out his latest album superbly, proving that just because the man doesn’t rap, it doesn’t mean he can’t keep it interesting.