This is a really frustrating one, because any review should be based solely on the music. The concept behind this EP is brilliant and unique, but the actual execution is mediocre. The concept behind this album is that the indie-folk-rap group “stalked” their superfans online to learn information about them, and write songs about them. It’s a little creepy, but the odes are nice. Each fan gets the “golden ticket” of having a song based off them, and the band in turn sold each song online individually, proceeds going to various disaster reliefs. It was all for a good cause, and Why?’s big fans get songs written about them. In most of the seven tracks, frontman Yoni Wolf takes on the personae of the fans.
Beyond the concept, though, everything feels largely phoned in. There’s no indication that there is a concept behind the album, I only came across it when looking up information on the EP. What it sounds like instead is Wolf adopting random identities for the sake of poetry – something he has done on previous Why? songs. The first three tracks all have either “Me name is” or “I am” as introductory lines. He barely raps, often doing a more melodic talking that sounds pretty disinterested. And musically, the band has traditionally written interesting pieces of music – often filled with tempo changes and genre melding. But on “Golden Tickets,” they largely just create simple structures and stand by them, doing nothing to complement Wolf.
“Dropjaw” is the worst offender, and was based off the best concept. A fan sent the band a video of him mouthing a wordless monologue, and Wolf wrote lyrics to what he imagined him saying. Again, it’s a great concept – but Wolf’s rhythmless, medioce Jamaican accent that he adopts is off-putting. The final song, “Peta Godfrey,” is the album’s only real good point. Wolf sings at points, actually sounding interested, and the band has crafted what feels like a good old Why? song.
As a very big fan of Why?, this felt like a weird misstep. It’s great that they’re doing something like this for their fans, but the execution felt very flawed. I’ve enjoyed everything they’ve done up to now, so a little misstep is fine, but “Golden Tickets” is really a missed opportunity. For someone looking on getting into the band, this is not the best place to start.
-By Andrew McNally