WHY?: Rubber Traits

WHY? fans have suffered no shortage of new material the past year. 2005 saw the release of Yoni Wolf's Sandollars EP and the full-length Elephant Eyelash, and now comes the Rubber Traits EP, this one containing four cuts (three new non-album tracks) plus a wacky video of the title cut by Ravi Zupa. The opening songs (“Rubber Traits” and “Dumb Hummer”) are the keepers, with the last two (“Pick Fights,” “Deceived”) more like sketchy works-in-progress.

The first songs find Wolf diving headlong into a baroque pool of Brian Wilson-Van Dyke Parks-styled psychedelia. In the eccentric and lyrically morbid “Rubber Traits,” Wolf's singing echoes Ben Gibbard's with the tune itself a bright and euphoric bit of pop business. Even louder, the percussion-heavy jangler “Dumb Hummer” strangles its bluegrass-styled romp with screaming guitar fuzz. The closing 'monotone rap' pieces offer a welcome calm after the opening storm, but, as mentioned, they're so brief as to seem unfinished. Hang on for the cool video, though, a colourfully wild and irreverent affair filled with hilarious images of words flying out of Wolf's and various dogs' mouths. Watch the video once and you won't easily forget its wild and weird images.

March 2006