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: Alopecia

Release Date:2008

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 3/26/2008

The first lyric lobbed on Alopecia is "I'm not a ladies' man/ I'm a land mine, filming my own fake death," and it's about as direct and sincere a sentiment as anyone has a right to expect from Why? frontman Yoni Wolf. His albums double as splintered-psyche diaries or sleep-deprived taped confessionals set to immaculately conceived, ivory-bitten indie rock that almost makes you forget that it's really indie rap. Wolf's congested-nasal-passage babblings about overseas-tour minutiae, the vagaries of friendship, banging groupies, or whatever are whirls of tangential wordplay that add up--sometimes--to a sort of jumbled hipster philosophy.

What, exactly, does the agile bass and pacing organ of "These Few Presidents" frame? Wolf casually pairs dewy portraits of domestic love ("two first names and an ampersand") on the verses and the cold shoulder of a john who doesn't want to get to know the prostitute he's just paid for on the chorus--but before getting that far, he explodes a religiously charged cocktail: "At your house, the smell of our still living human bodies, and oven gas/ You pray to nothing out loud." Up-tempo, Modest Mousy "Fatalist Palmistry" chugs along under the singer's subtextual desire not to know where or toward whom life is leading him, palm readers and insistent girlfriends be damned. More often, Wolf is happy to forego meaning in favor of compelling shock, stringing random rhetoric together with startling imagery; see nocturnal muse-fest "The Hollows," where a trip to Berlin affords Wolf's protagonist the opportunity to stumble upon man-on-man action on a basketball court and get ripped off by street gypsies who "probably got knives."

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