Why? Rubber Traits EP

[Anticon; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: lo-fi post rap-turned-lo-fi indie pop rock
Others: Reaching Quiet, Pavement, cLOUDDEAD, Hymie’s Basement

Why?, if you can believe it, has grown quirkier. His music has transitioned from rap to rock, and it now comes full circle, as far as instrumentation goes. It smoothed out for awhile there, on the Sanddollars EP and Early Whitney EP, but now things are jangling, buzzing, clicking, and queerly harmonizing like Part Time People Cage of old.

This is another EP, according to the press release, following in "the great Pavement tradition of using an album single as an excuse to gather together new and uncollected songs." Something like that, I guess. The title track is the lead single off Elephant Eyelash. It's the most developed number on here, consisting of zany noises coming from the human mouths of pet pugs (watch the video of the song which is also included on this disc).

"Dumb Hummer" is a judgmental criticism of society—both in wide view (war politics) and on a smaller scale (personal fashion). It triumphs individualism, dancing without the aid of "numbered footprints," but becomes too self-righteous at the end. Yoni Wolf finds fault with those who "wear firsthand clothes and get [their] hair cut by somebody [they] don't know"—God forbid. Why?, a longtime supporter of tight-fitting goodwill novelty tees and never a fan of tidy and professional haircuts, wears his individualism like a 15-year-old.

The remaining two tracks, "Pick Fights" and "Decieved," are more lyrics than music. Simple piano lines provide the background to Why?'s idiosyncratic accounts. "Pick Fights" concerns his early, local days in the world of music performance, once again feeling tormented by the "straights" and "squares" for his glasses and open-toe sandals. "Decieved" is some sort of ramshackle diatribe ending with the clever: "I haven't wrote a funny line since I learned my Redline frame was a high-end Huffy." It's a brief moment where Why?'s whipping boy complex isn't as annoying. He just comes off like an innocent patsy.

Oh, and Yoni, one final note concerning "Decieved": "i" before "e" except after "c". Then again, that was probably intentionally misspelled—for the same reason you shop at the Salvation Army, I'm sure.

1. Rubber Traits
2. Dumb Hummer
3. Pick Fights
4. Decieved

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