Essential New Music: WHY?’s “Moh Lhean”

The Wolf brothers, Yoni and Josiah (but mostly the former), were always the mopey children of the lo-fi, bedsit, folksy, shoegaze rap movement since its 2003 start, and that only really changed with its brighter, bolder albums such as 2008’s Alopecia and 2012’s Mumps Etc. So, here you have Moh Lhean—a snarky return to the more intimate sounds of WHY?’s beginnings and its even more adventurous nature: the still life of clarinet, voice and guitar (until its blasted-off finale) that is “Consequence Of Nonaction” and the Eno/Byrne-ish art-dub-funk of “The Water.” Usually an outfit cloistered and within itself (brother acts have a knack for such insular behavior), WHY? reaches out as it rarely does via collaborations with mewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss on “Proactive Evolution” (a loosely knit, forlorn meditation on Yoni’s mid-life health scare that led to depression) and the ooky-spooky psychedelia of “The Barely Blur” (featuring Son Lux), which flips sadness on its ear by reaching into death’s great beyond.

—A.D. Amorosi