Review Summary: "Oooh, yeah, you lost me in that blast beat"
Single Mothers became one of my favorite bands from the minute I pressed play on "Overdose," track one of their debut album. Drew Thompson's rage and wit really shone through. His anger was totally without discrimination. He was stuck in his ways, and he managed to even be pissed about that. In a way, I admired it. So when I heard the slight poppiness to their sophomore effort, Our Pleasure, I was surprised. The album was still excellent but it just lacked some of that rage.
I am proud to say that Through A Wall is a bit of a return to form.
This album is short. It's raw. It's punchy. And god damn, it is ANGRY. It starts with "Marathon," which itself begins with recorded applause before Thompson shouts, "SHUT UP!" and the band begins their temper tantrum. It quickly becomes apparent that Thompson's anger is (mostly) directed inward this time around. As hooks blast, guitars rage, and drums thrash during "Engine," he laments how he "gets choked up on the rides home" and feels stupid. His personal anguish fills the record, fueling pure rash bursts of speed on songs like "Catch and Release."
The record also showcases a stylistic shift for the band-- songs like "Web," "Signs," and "Catch and Release" all feature post-hardcore style breakdowns, with heavy riffage and slow tempos. This works on "Web" and "Signs," which have awesome hooks and mosh-worthy breakdowns towards the end of the song. They're well written and they fit the song. "Catch and Release" lacks the appeal, with its double kick outro and metal like low scream from Thompson. That outro just doesn't gel with the rest of that song, and breaks the atmosphere created from the blood-pumping anger of the first few songs. "Dog Parks" was initially one of my favorites, but upon repeated listens I just find it a misstep, hearkening back to Our Pleasure a little bit.
"Stoic/Pointless" is also a look back to Our Pleasure, with a slower tempo and poppy hook. It sounds really good though, and actually provides an excellent respite from the blatant assault of this record. It isn't anything like "Money" off of Negative Qualities, but it does serve that function on an altogether more extreme record.
This album is clearly catharsis for Thompson, recently sober and really unhappy with himself, and that catharsis contributes to a deeper meaning to the record than just lambasting every aspect of his life. It's an entertaining listen, and it contributes to the band's discography as their edgiest, most nervous effort yet.