Coming to you today live and uncut from Charleston, South Carolina. I’m in town for my cousin’s wedding. Never miss a shift and whatnot.
After I finished questioning the sincerity of Donald Glover as Childish Gambino yesterday, I hopped in Vesuvius (my Nissan Versa; it’s a he, contrary to popular belief), drowned myself in This American Life episodes* and hurled toward arguably the second or third worst state in the country: Georgia. I think we can all agree nothing good ever happens in Alabama.
My pit stop in Savannah could only do so much to redeem the state. Atlanta isn’t so bad except for transit (I once had the misfortune of experiencing both 8:30am and 5pm traffic there; I rue that day). Savannah isn’t so bad either, but it wasn’t as clean as I anticipated. I guess I had a misconception about the town because of everything I’d been told: that it was adorable, cute little Southern town, gem of the south, etc. Hipster shaming alone was worth the whole stop.
Also, they have a gorgeous bridge to get out north of the city, and an oddly-placed Marc Jacobs store.
Charleston is nice too. A little tourist-trappy, but tons of beautiful people. I attempted make today’s album, WHY?’s Mumps, Etc. the soundtrack for the longest road trip I’ve ever taken by myself, but man, I just can’t get into it. The 4th album from the Cincinnati-based indie rock band helmed by sharp-tongued lyricist Yoni Wolf, Mumps is limping practically from the get go.
Don’t get me wrong: I love this band through and through. The predecessors to this record, Alopecia and Eskimo Snow are amongst my favorite albums of the last 5 years. The type of clever webs woven by Yoni Wolf are
Yoni Wolf weaves intricate, clever webs punctuated by his acid-tipped barbs. In general, wordplay is so sexy. Wolf’s undoing very well may be his biggest strength: unyielding honesty as a vehicle for intimate, personal details.
At times, it’s amusing: “G4 motherboards / with 90s porn in their cache” (“Thirst”).
Other times, it’s nothing short of uncomfortable because of too much information: “During sex, I might put us in some joke positions. But it’s scary always how we end up in mission” (…also, “Paper Hearts”).
There’s a lyric later in that song that ends up surmising my disappointment for this album: preemptive nostalgia of the possible but doubtful. I knew something was up when the first song from Mumps was released: “Sod in the Seed.” It was listenable but the lyrics seemed forced and contrived (Wolf speaks about having a “sturdy purse” after saying he’s a “minor star”). It’s not the same band that wrote “Good Friday” or “Against Me.”
It’s not a terrible record, just… underwhelming. Not sure how else to explain it except for its complete and total lack of energy that was present, front and center on both of their previous records. Worth a listen, but I actually had to look at song titles because of how little this record has retained me as a listener. Unusual for WHY?
From last year’s Mumps, Etc. here is WHY?’s “Sod in the Seed” –
Standout tracks: “Strawberries” and “Waterlines”
Weakest track: “Thirst” or “As a Card” and the first portion of “Paper Hearts” (though the way the track closes out is its saving grace)
RIYL: Intelligent hip-hop, muted indie rock. Astronautalis comes to mind.
*Retraction, What Kind of Country, and Fall Guy, among others.