On the refrain to ‘The Barely Blur’, the closing track of WHY’s sixth album ‘Moh Lhean’, Yoni Wolf asks “hold on, what’s going on?” It’s a question he might have posed more than a few times recently, having gone through a severe health scare. His personal issues have understandably shaped the musical form of the album, from its production in his own studio alongside brother Josiah, to the inclusion of the voices of his doctors on ‘Proactive Evolution’.
However, Yoni doesn’t wallow in his own problems or channel his frustrations into an angsty record that dramatically screams “WHY?” Instead, in a move away from some of his more self-deprecating humour, he’s produced something much more languid and accepting of the situation he found himself in. As he says on ‘George Washington’, “when it swells into me, I’ll pass into it and push a little closer”. It’s unsurprising then that ‘Moh Lhean’ doesn’t succumb to glacial tones, instead bathing itself in light hip hop beats, warm synths, smatterings of psychedelic electronic glitches and guitar melodies.
Similarly, Yoni eschews caustic barbs for a sense of quiet reflection. Sometimes he contemplates his health and being, as on ‘One Mississippi’ (“my body knows more than I can form with my brain”) while at other times he simply appreciates some form of deeper human connection, like with ‘Consequence of Nonaction’ (“you’re all the more beautiful than a photograph of you”).
Eventually, though, the melodies begin blurring into a fuzzy mass and become like a perpetual stream of consciousness flowing from his mind. There are moments that prick up the ears a little more, like the truly haunting ramshackle piano on ‘Easy’. For better or for worse though, ‘Moh Lhean’ mostly moves to the beat of its own, strangely laid-back drums. It just would have been nice to have a little more variation buried within those meditative vibes.