Review Summary: I’m washed but not washed up.A collaborative review by Ian and Connor.
Mom Jeans. are a simple band. They want you to know that. We want you to know that
. There are many similar groups that are recently following in their footsteps, including a weird motley crüe variety of bands from the Counter Intuitive Records roster. The names among them that ring loudest, though, are those of Pictures of Vernon, Prince Daddy & The Hyena, Just Friends, Retirement Party, and even Bart of Mom Jeans.’ own Graduating Life, who have essentially established the background of this community. I mean, even the biggest aspects of this newest wave still feel communal in a way that these DIY ethics being portrayed are still being held tighter than ever before; it's the way the scene is being paved in the previous decade by labels like Asian Man, Side One Dummy, and even early versions of Topshelf and Run For Cover. But it’s the morals instilled by these labels, to which I could even draw comparison from Quote Unquote, in some of the ways that this “wave” of power-pop emo revival keeps the music feeling more grounded than ever, coming into fruition in between 2014-2016 or so. Not that this is a bad thing at all. In fact, I personally believe that the communal sense of this new wave in power pop-based emo is what’s keeping these sprouting music environments growing so healthily out in California, Florida, New York, etc. Sure, it’s not an inventive sound at all, as every single band I’ve listed already borrows something heavily from somebody (and by somebody I just mean Weezer and Bomb The Music Industry), yet these bands are still managing to craft thoughtfully executed, and more importantly exciting
material. This effect is subsequently expanding, and has churned out more and more raw, intense, and honest recordings that haven’t ever been present in a post-digital music format.
But the ability to discern honesty and transparency in DIY/emo, or rather the lack thereof, is what has caused the past few waves of the emo scene’s bands to fall under labels of melodrama and immaturity more than anything. The majority of emo’s melodrama is heading out the door, almost completely due to the now-butchering of emo-rap and the subsequent wake of Lil Peep/Tracy and other GBC-inspired teenagers coming up in their toxic battle scarred side of the scene. The roots of emo have been left at bay with the rawness being catered towards more theatrical shock factors, and bands from the corners like Mom Jeans. have a certain awareness of these aspects that set them apart from their contemporaries of emo in 2015-2017. They’ve gone on from releasing their debut to touring around America multiple times, but they still need more time as artists to truly fill in the stylistic gaps within their sound. Puppy Love
is definitely not as full-frontal as the band’s debut best buds.
by any means, but as any band needs to evolve, Mom Jeans. had to cover up a bit regardless if they wanted to capture the scope of a wider music scene. While Puppy Love
seems like the logical direction to take after their slight ascendancy, this doesn’t mean that the logical direction isn’t fucking awesome — but since the band is sitting on genius (whether knowingly or not is besides the point now), they need to be making calculated moves to push their ethics forward. While Puppy Love
feels like a great sign of what is to come, the tension of what’s next is already looming because of it —and while the magic is still more than present — the band, producers, and engineers just need to keep doing what they’re doing, more importantly by evolving themselves.
The interesting part about Puppy Love
is that it’s tonally a bit more self-aware of its genre surroundings. While their debut was unabashedly honest, pure, and cliche, this sophomore release acts as its slightly matured older brother, in a way. Mom Jeans. really consciously toes that line between embracing the former cheesiness while still polishing up the production and songwriting skills. Believe it or not, this group has spearheaded the rebirth of an entire genre, albeit a movement that is still extremely indebted, yet they recall the carefree messiness found in a Algernon Cadwallader or Free Throw. In fact, I’m tempted to compare the latter band’s career path to their own; both had debuts which were extremely sloppy yet unbothered by the slight blips and blunders. I think Mom Jeans. succeeds where Free Throw slightly failed, and that’s within the act of letting go of perfection; Bear Your Mind
slipped in recalling its past due to it meticulously fixing every aspect of their style, which eventually made the album sound much closer to a Tiny Moving Parts rather than a “yell-core” gem. Mom Jeans. realizes many of its faults are just unfixable, which basically means if you’re looking for an album that will splash its originality into the mix, this release isn’t for you.
In fact, the third track ‘glamorous’ nearly rips off Weezer’s ‘Undone’ falsetto oo-ohs
to a recognizable degree, showcasing its influences right on the album’s sleeve. The difference is subtle —yet strangely enough —the track ends up being a favorite of mine, maybe simply due to the familiarity. Where the album really thrives in is the noticeable upgrade in production, despite the fact that the group is utilizing the exact same sound engineers and producers as before. Tonally, the guitars have a much cleaner crunch to them and the fuzzy bedroom static is almost entirely absent. While their debut relied heavily on Eric’s wailing and theatrical yells for the breakdowns, on here the entire band sounds much fuller, increasing their own intensity while allowing for the vocals to thankfully take a step back emotionally, as seen with songs like the single ‘sponsor me tape’. The 1-2-3 punch of ‘Jon bong Jovi’ through the closer ‘no THIS is podracing’ exemplifies these improvements to a giddy degree, utilizing the same old cliches (yelling “one two three!
" and of course the soothing trumpet lines). Despite my love for best buds.
, I’m much less annoyed and taken aback by the overwhelming vocal emotions on this release, and I definitely appreciate them not relying on those aspects as a crutch. As such, Puppy Love
gently blends right into the newfound scene of self-conscious memes while shedding the skins of former cliches.
And that’s not to say there isn’t an argument that some of these former cliches still linger, but it’s the artistic evolution and maturity from best buds.
that dignifies the push that Mom Jeans., along with their CI/S1D counterparts, are currently pushing through with on Puppy Love
. It’s particularly through these more honest and dignified cuts of the record such as intro track ‘near death fail comp’ and the perhaps too
awfully titled ‘PICKLE BART’ that give off tastes of wider, darker perspectives and introspections that were only treated as stoner-fodder initially. While that sense of “stoner-fodder” can be argued as still being present, to that though, I would say there’s a deeper perspective we get through some of these tracks’ lyrical content, as compared to the band’s more shy, earlier lyrical tendencies found on the worse cuts of best buds.
. There’s still a lot of progress to be made, but people seem to forget it’s the sense of community that brings these genres together, and albums like best buds.
along with Free Throw’s “yell-core” seed Those Days Are Gone
(which was planted sonically for what Mom Jeans. are now doing) succeed in this. Other releases like PDATH’s I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving
are records that ground the genre’s personalities, motifs, and messages better than ever, regardless of whether they’re still holding on to certain sonic tendencies of the past. Now that records like Puppy Love
, Just Friends’ Nothing But Love
, and perhaps more famously, Remo Drive’s Greatest Hits
are all being released, there’s this wide variety of styles all grounded within the same self-aware mindset. That means this upcoming “wave” is being handled carefully (even if the music seems careless), and whatever’s next is what will be truly interesting to see and watch for. There’s still a lot of evolution to be made, but the cards are being played effortlessly in a drunken genius state, spearheaded of course by Mom Jeans., Free Throw before them, along with the aforementioned Prince Daddy, Remo Drive, et al. in a way that feels so foreign in today’s climates yet still so familiar — as you can’t have emo without some fellowship.
Compared to best buds.
, it’s as if Mom Jeans. decided to hurriedly clean their room before company came over; internally it’s still a stoner’s mess but externally (mostly with the production and vocal performances) the space seems relatively tidied up. And while the weed-pop group still revels in the Mary Jane references and absurd song titles, it’s comforting to see them tone down the jokes in favor of making some kick-ass jams. While this isn’t terrible, when being a true-blue stoner, this doesn’t necessarily translate well to the whole “art imitates life” spiel that emo thrives off of. Hopefully the rest of the scene will promptly follow their footsteps, but until then we’ll wait and see.
“and someday we'll look back and say, why were we ever so afraid to say how we feel”