Review Summary: "I don't feel like I'm even here/You may just watch me disappear"
Of his many keywords, the one particular keyword that internet music critic Todd in the Shadows seems to love throwing around like a football is "Fluke Indie Hit Sweepstakes", meaning an indie band tries to make it big in the mainstream pop/rock music charts and become as big as all the Lady Gagas and One Dictections. And at first glance, without hearing anything they've ever made, perhaps Mother Mother should have been an easy target- but as their big single "Hayloft" shy word, they still had enough uniqueness and quirkiness to make them stand above the countless Death Cab for Cuties and Metrics they probably should have been grouped with. Sure, one could argue that since the band have been polishing their sound more and more beginning with 2011's Eureka
and 2012's The Sticks
have meant that they've been going downhill ever since, and if those albums weren't already proof enough for you, then consider Very Good Bad Thing
the final nail in the coffin for this once unique band.
A current trend I've been noticing in 2010s Canadian indie music is that bands become more and more reliant in synthesizers and electronic elements, and Mother Mother sadly are the latest band to have fallen victim to this. For proof of it, just listen to the absolutely abysmal debut single from the album, "Get Out the Way". Never mind the rapper-speak in the title, never mind the fact that said title and delivery of the line throughout the chorus is delivered in possibly the whitest tone of voice I've ever heard in my life, but it seems to abide by the 2014 indie-pop checklist. Heavy synth hook? Check. Generic 4/4 beat? Check. Cringe worthy lyrics? Check. "Rusty" vocal delivery? Check. Fortunately, it's just the first track on the album because you have one serious mess of an album ahead.
Still, I guess if you never got into Mother Mother and are hoping that this album might change that, well, it might just. Ever wonder what a haphazard attempt at blending electro and punk would sound like? Look no further than "Reaper Man", which absolutely plods in spite of its efforts to liven up the atmosphere with a rather energetic synth riff. It probably would be successful if the music underneath it weren't so dull, and the lyrics weren't so cringe-worthy: "Oh yeah, I'm a reaper man/Every good thing, I kill it good"
. Or try "Monkey Tree", which sounds like a song that Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker
would probably have thought twice before releasing as a B-Side. Everything about this track reeks of "grab the money and run", with its slow and boring electronic beat and its cringe-worthy lyrics ("I live in the jungle/I sleep in a monkey tree/I'm looking from an angle/From the bird of a different breed"
), even even its bloody chorus is predictable at best. Not helping matters is how schizophrenic the album is- the album veers back and forth between "energetic" and "ballady" and there isn't enough substance to any of the music featured here to support it. For all the imperfections that were ever so apparent on "O My Heart", it showed that there was enough energy and meat to the music to keep it on its legs. Here, the music is polished, lifeless, draining and emotionless, with only the bones of the music apparent- the kind of bones you'd expect to accompany a Virgin Mobile commercial.
And that's pretty much all that can be said to describe this album. I guess if inoffensive and safe electro-indie-pop is what you're looking for or you're just getting into music and haven't learned better yet, well, I guess this album may be right up your ally, but if you've ever had the pleasure of listening to... well, how do I put this in a non-smug way... an actual good
album, your best bet is to avoid this blatantly "grab the money and run" release at all cost. Oh, I've no doubt that this album has its place. I'm sure the aforementioned cell phone commercial with Monkey Tree blaring out of the speakers will be on the tele in months flat and you'll hear a few of this album's ballads at the hair salon or grocery store, but only a superficial place is what this album deserves, and sadly not a place on your shelf.