To nail down exactly what Mother Mother is would be like trying to describe a film such as Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’; transcending, familiar yet different, and just plain out there. Unlike Tarantino’s cult hit however, Mother Mother never really seemed to break into the cultural zeitgeist. That may seem like an insult towards the band as they have been forging foreword for 12 years, but honestly they don’t seem to give a shit. This band, for 6 LPs now, has done what they want, when they want, and how they want. Heck, their latest release titled ‘No Culture’ pretty much sums up the bands attitude.
The overall feeling of ‘No Culture’ is that the band is at a crossroads; a struggle to remain the group loved by their fans, while also trying to advance themselves as artists. The album opens with ‘Free’, an unusually heavy and rebellious track from the Canadian rockers. They make it work only as Mother Mother can, while frontman Ryan Guldemond preaches: “Love, let my nightmares turn into dreams/Love, let the angels into my sleep/Love, let the spirit fly out of me/Love, let my love inside go free”. The contrasting vibes on this album are perfectly on display as the track ‘Love Struck’, which immediately follows ‘Free’, stands out as pure Mother Mother fan service; upbeat and dancing on the edge of pop.
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It is around the middle section of this LP that Mother Mother begins to flounder. Songs like ‘Letter’ and ‘Mouth of the Devil’, come off as desperate pleas to appeal to mainstream audiences. The reliance of Chainsmokersesque vocals really hinders on what you want from a Mother Mother record in the first place. While on the subject of biting flows, the closer track on ‘No Culture’, ‘Family’, sounds like it could have been from the most recent Lumineers record; “They is my family, they is my family/They might be crazy, but they is my family” which is accompanied by reverbed “Hos” and “Heys”.
In short, ‘No Culture’ finds Mother Mother in somewhat of a rut; they ultimately need to decide what their next route as an outfit is. You can’t expect to appeal to mainstream audiences without losing a few fans in the process, and Mother Mother need to decide which direction is the appropriate one to take.
‘No Culture’ is out now via Def Jam