Why?'s 2005 sophomore release, Elephant Eyelash, is probably my favorite album of all time. Alopecia was my second-favorite album of 2008, and in retrospect, probably deserved the number one spot. And as of a few weeks ago, they are without a doubt my favorite active band, always amazing me with their unbelievably original mixture of folk, hip-hop, pop and indie rock, all with Yoni Wolf's trademark dream-like lyrics. So, it goes without saying that Eskimo Snow has been my most anticipated album of the year (by a large margin), and getting it this early (its street date is September 22nd) is like an early birthday present (whereas if it hadn't leaked, it would have been a day-late birthday present).
Let me just cut straight to the point - this album not only meets any expectations I had; it exceeds them. I've had it less than 24 hours, and it's already looking like it's got a lock on album of the year 2009. It's that good.
Not only is this my favorite album of the year so far, "Into the Shadows of My Embrace" has already become my favorite song of the year as well. It's Eskimo Snow's answer to Elephant Eyelash's "Gemini (Birthday Song)"; that's how much attention it commands. This song builds and builds and builds across its 4-and-a-half-minute runtime, and when Yoni drops the line "I know saying all this in public should make me feel funny / But you gotta yell something that you never tell nobody!" it's like every inhibition I've ever felt about anything just drops away in an instant, and my body starts moving and flailing like I've never moved and flailed before; I think it probably looks a lot like Ally Sheedy dancing to "We are Not Alone" in the Breakfast Club (for those of you who somehow haven't seen that movie (what the fuck is wrong with you), she's the one in black). And when he howls out "Am I clean? / Lord please / WHY ME?" and lets the last minute of the track be taken over by a guitar solo (yeah, a guitar solo in a Why? track, but it works), I essentially start having a seizure. I'm more than a little scared to listen to this song in my car, because there's a very good chance I would veer off the road and die in some fiery catastrophe. But at least my death would have a kickin' soundtrack.
Seriously, I can't emphasize how good this album is. Download it. Love it. Buy it when it comes out, because this band is one of the last truly unique acts out there, and we don't want them to go anywhere anytime soon. Whatever you do, hear this album.