Sod In The Seed is the first release from WHY? since 2009’s Eskimo Snow, which many unfairly dismiss as their most sombre, least enjoyable album. So far, WHY?’s career trajectory has been an unusual one; they have slowly, naturally progressed from an arty, stream of consciousness hip hop act to a folky chamber pop band, with Eskimo Snow drawing on strange instrumentation and influences from the 50s and 60s. WHY?’s new EP is a return to the surreal, crushingly honest, self referential hip hop of undoubtedly their best album, Alopecia.
The concept of WHY? returning from their various sonic digressions to their warped, folky version of hip hop is probably delightful news to most fans of the band, but Sod In The Seed is not the release they have been waiting for. There are moments of inspired brilliance; the organ-driven soul stylings of ‘The Plan’ is irresistible, and probably the catchiest thing the band have written since Alopecia and the reference-laden lyrical brilliance of ‘Shag Carpet’ is undeniable. The title track is the longest and most substantial song here, and addresses frontman Yoni Wolf’s life in the most head-on, brutally honest way; it is one of the hook-laden, fun moments of the band’s career, and the lyrics find Wolf attempting his own hipster version of hip hop bragging – “I make decent cash/ I’m a minor star/ And we don’t last if she don’t drive a hybrid car”. ‘Twenty Seven’ finds Wolf on typically brilliant form in terms of lyrics, as the song describes him plucking feathers from a dead bird whilst crying “she loves me not, she loves me” and building a gift for his love interest out of the bird’s bones.
However, there are several weak moments on the EP; ‘For Someone’ and ‘Probable Cause’ are enjoyable for die hard fans but ultimately forgettable. Save for the title track, no song last longer than around 3 minutes, and sometime the whole thing can feel somewhat throwaway. Indeed, only the title track is featuring on WHY?’s upcoming full length Mumps, Etc. which suggests that perhaps these songs are indeed throwaways, and that this EP is simply a palette cleansing disposal of songs not deemed worthy of appearing on one of the band’s consistently brilliant full length albums.
As much as WHY? have cemented their status as one of my favourite bands, one can’t help feeling that this EP is simply a stopgap between albums, and that the real brilliance will be found on the unfortunately titled Mumps, Etc. Having followed their career closely, October, when that album is released, will be an amazing month.
Released 13th August 2012 by City Slang Records