Sod in the Seed – WHY?

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Yoni Wolf returns with the next installment of first world indie lamentations and hip-hop recited manuscripts as WHY? on the Sod in the Seed EP. The follow up to Eskimo Snow, some four years forward from Alopecia and eight years on from Oaklandazulasylum finds the trio sharpening the production and developing balance between conscious and sentimental indie songwriting and occasional hip-hop recitations.

Paramount on this EP are the inner reflections of western world privileges acknowledged on the title track “Sod in the Seed”. Yoni counts up the receipt collection of first world curses, bagel and khakis entitlements with “a steady hurt and a sturdy purse”. Cringe worthy moments include the Whole Foods bulletin board getting a shout out, but rhyme schemes like “I threw my lumbar out picking up checks” with “I’m destined to end up a slum lord depressed” keep you geared into the narrative and predictions of unfulfillment. One of the most grounding quips in Wolf’s observations of paradoxes is “the complicated man is misunderstood even to himself acutely unaware of what’s in a shallow breath of air and a long exhale of something else” standing as perhaps the heaviest line of poignancy on the disc.

With the title track serving as the EP’s centerpiece of first world crises and quandaries, “For Someone” takes sentimental memories of pool tables, faux Easter basket plastic grass in Nike shoeboxes from ’93 recalled while patiently waiting at the beach “like a slow sucking leech for someone.” Yoni asks whether or not he could be waiting for you, but the selling poetics here are on the chorus “6:03, the city is asleep and the streets will grieve a million mardi gras beads when dawn comes, each one glistening like a superbowl ring in the dawn sun.” The song order operates like a micro song cycle orchestrated by WHY? in a move to condense the variety found on a long player into brief vignettes. “Probable Cause” skips to a subtle skank organ progression all for a brief minute and a second, while the birthday toy piano ode “Twenty Seven” which contains one of the rare moments of reconciliation with, “there is real peace in the regular order of my most intimate geometry” amid the lyrical torrent of contradictory litanies.

The most puzzling might be the closer “Shag Carpet” where both the rap and choral interludes collide together in awkward fashion. The backing track of a cappella “bahs” and “ahs” frame tales of roller rink teenage lust confessionals are sporadically interrupted with bell chimes on the “what’s your name” lullaby chorus. While it is good to hear WHY? embracing more of a spoken approach to delivery which went absent on the bulk of Eskimo Snow; “Shag Carpet” employs the similar lyrical on-the-couch obtuseness exhibited on “Into the Shadows of My Embrace” from the last LP. Yoni, Josiah and Doug work to make sense of the past while dealing with the present tense of western world guilt often correlated and beleaguered with unnecessary information. “So I put the porn in the poem to confess and atone and I address the past and ask why I’m alone and in a torn tone I preach peace and pour from the pulpit, but at home, Jack Kennedy sheets and shag carpet.” Even though the eponymous “Sod in the Seed” track might at times sound like a cut from a certain Jamie Hewlett animated project, the wordiness from the trio grows denser on this EP signaling further lyrical complexities on the next long player. Though first world problem rehashing might at times seem done to death, WHY? advises to “have some self respect and exercise some tact” while they supply the, at times excessive, info that we lack.