On their informatively titled No.4 EP, New Wet Kojak returns with more of their take on the low-strung, breathy, sax driven, ultra-hip indie jazz that helped Morphine inspire listeners to want to smoke to look sexy. Though the group features two members of D.C.'s ultra rock double bass outfit Girls Against Boys, having released a steadier stream of records than that outfit, New Wet Kojak is hardly a mere side project. The album opens on a strong note as "Living 2 Low" harkens to the title track of 2000s Do Things with its sly basslines and smooth sax runs punctuated with Scott McCloud's raspy, abstract, apocalyptic beat poetry. Track number two, "Do the Math," the album's clear highlight, finds the band rocking out, hitting a synth driven groove, with a steady, simple bassline and wailing saxophones. This bouncy, almost disco-inflected track calls to mind the newly dancey direction taken by Brooklyn's Les Savy Fav on their 2001 effort Go Forth. Unfortunately, the remaining three songs leave much to be desired. Musically, "Sophia Loren" and "Year of the Sheep" attempt minimalist riffs played into hypnotic repetition but instead become boring. Lyrically, the former lazily relies on repetition of the title, while the latter seems to have been inspired by reading the Chinese zodiac on a restaurant placemat and attempting to craft a thought-provoking statement out of it. It just seems so half-hearted, especially in comparison to the fire of "Do the Math." Most disappointing of all is the wholly unwarranted remix of Do Things' finest track, "Love Career." More a complete redux than a simple remix, it seems the only piece recycled from the original is the vocal track, which is transplanted from its place among piercing piano refrains and placed among ultra-mellow string section loops. Interesting, but blasé compared to the stunning original. Overall, No.4 falls well short of the high expectations fueled by 2000's brilliant, vaguely trip-hoppy Do Things. However, since it has long been the standard that EPs tend serve as little more than a means of clearing a band's catalog of B-sides and throwaways not worthy of a proper album, it is likely that the next proper New Wet Kojak record will be stronger.
AllMusic Review by Karen E. Graves