Mother Mother – The Sticks

A bit of a return to form without being a self-conscious rejection of the last five years. This is good – usually self-conscious returns tend towards being shitty facsimiles of a band’s glory years. Here MM aren’t exactly moving forward, but they’re reclaiming a bit of the old magic while still trying way too hard to make it big.
Like, really, it’s still early Mother Mother crossed with fucking Collective Soul. The best songs are easily the ones featuring their old style of acoustic way-up-the-neck guitar picking, with extra emphasis on whatever glimpses of self-expression you can find. To be fair, there are far more of both here than on the last album, and the heartbreaking “Dread In My Heart” is the real winner here. Otherwise… do you like alt-rock guitars with….stumpy Zeppelin drums? Then the title track might be just for you! How about with really simple lyrics about how lots of animals have sex? Then there’s a cute little lead single for you that isn’t at all reminiscent of the White Stripes’ “Instinct Blues.”
Look, i’m all for themes, and struggling to be happy in a shitty world and seeking to escape from said world are fine themes and all, but themes along can’t make a career, and I miss the quirky, folky wonders these guys used to be. The production tricks are still present and irritating – dig that awful “someone not in the song is yelling at you!” intro to “Cry Forum” for instance – and themes can’t make lyrics like “drugs can make a fuck last all night long” anything other than annoying, especially when they’re over a languid MuchMoreMusic beat.
But look, I’m all for simplicity when it works, so “Let’s Fall In Love” and “Love It Dissipates” are fine with me. I’m just nostalgic, you know? Seven years ago Mother Mother meant something, “man,” now they’re at one truly great song in two albums’ time, and it’s the one that sounds like their first album. The improvement here is that there’s a lot of “good” songs going on. Also quite a few failed attempts to create a ”rockin’ good time” so there’s that on the other side. But this ain’t no whiz-bang-pop, just a mere bang-fizz-shwizzle, so if you’re in the mood for that snorta thningk then the schmer, but if you’re unemployed and you have a music review blog and you need to listen several times to complete your Mother Mother reviews then it’s not so bad.

6 / 10


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