Mother Mother: Eureka

I've been putting this review off for a while, now. Mostly because, well, I've had no idea what to really say about this album. You see, it's very easy to get into this "black or white" mentality when it comes to music - the album is either good, or bad. But albums can not really be studied objectively, and something that one person loves could very easily be an album someone else hates. And both of those people can be absolutely right.

So when you review, you try to figure out how the album will be received by its potential audience, and compare it to previous works by the musician. You describe it, and then ultimately describe your own reaction to the piece, and hope that you shed at least a little bit of light on the work so that your readers can make an informed decision.

Here's the thing. I love Mother Mother. They are, to me, a rock-folk combination with such a degree of quirkiness and originality that they defy any form of explanation. They are a band that goes from singing about the meaning of life to singing about cross-dressing. They have lyrics as bizarre as "My daddy's got a gun, you better run!". And their albums wander, crossing into so many musical territories that you eventually give up trying to figure out what you're listening to and just lean back and enjoy the ride.

I have great memories of sitting back and listening to Kate trying to sing along to "Tic Toc" off Touch Up. And most of O My Heart has, at one part or another, been a soundtrack to my life. I distinctly remember buying a new pair of headphones a few months ago and having my mind absolutely blown by "Sleep Awake".

So yeah, I've been a fan of their work for a couple years now.

Their first album, Touch Up, was very much acoustic in nature, and while it was bizarre, energetic, frenetic, and quirky as hell, it was still an acoustic rock sort of sound for the most part. Their second album, O My Heart, was a bit more "mainstream", in that it had a more traditional guitar/bass/keyboard/drum thing going on, but the band still had that gift to play a few notes and have everyone know instantly "this is a mother mother song".

It's beginning to look more and more like Mother Mother want to reinvent themselves every album, because their newest, Eureka, sounds nothing like their previous two works. It is an album with a much more polished (I'd say "produced") sound. Many of the keyboard sounds harken back to the 80s New Wave movement, and many friends of mine have said it's very much an eighties throwback album. Even the drums have that over-reverbed sound reminiscent of, say, Phil Collins.

They're still quirky. They're still a unique sound. The problem is, that unique sound is no longer one that I enjoy. I'm not a fan of the eighties. I'm not a fan of the album's bassier sound. I'm not a fan of the tightened-up drums. Or of the fact that it sounds more like an album that's come out of a studio and less like the spontaneous albums that came before it. In short, I just don't like the album.

Does that mean it's a bad album? No, far from it. The songs are well-arranged, and still maintain that Mother Mother sense of quirkiness. The vocal melodies, particularly of the backup vocalists, have never been better. The sound is less guitar-based and utilizes much more of the band's multi-instrumental range.

A lot of people think it's absolutely great. Both Kate and Happy Apple are quite happy with it, though both also have a soft spot in their hearts for the eighties, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

Long story short, if you've liked previous Mother Mother albums, you may or may not like this one - it all depends on whether or not you enjoy the eighties.

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