We gotta cut the strings sometime baby. We can’t rely on our mothers to coddle us forever, growing up just won’t happen otherwise.
This week’s album review salutes those movers of culture.
Mother Mother – No Culture
released February 10, 2017
Mother Mother are a Canadian rock group from Vancouver Canada. Yay for Canadian content! Founded by Ryan Guldemond and sister Molly Guldemond when Ryan was in the midst of music school and yearning to start a vocal-driven band that focused on pop. They have released a total of six studio-length albums to-date, four of them with the Last Gang imprint, with the fifth album Very Good Bad Thing and the sixth album No Culture on Universal Music Canada.
I’ve been a fan of Mother Mother since I first saw them live back in 2013 during Sonic Boom at Northlands. They were busy promoting The Sticks, and Infinitesimal was a hot summer track that I loved.
Then came Very Good Bad Thing and more success for the quintet – at this point they were able to climb even higher on the Canadian charts.
If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that No Culture just might be the album that lands them a no. 1 album in Canada and does some breakout work in the American markets. But now I’ll have to back that up with some insights into the the record, I guess. Well, let’s start with the themes explored. This is the first album that Ryan wrote all on his lonesome with the intent of injecting himself into the mix rather than a persona or general ideas. In fact, it was a solution to his own battle with drugs and alcohol, written while he carved up some time in a cabin in the woods fighting his way back to sobriety.
The album has a strong mix of flow-state songs and anxiety inducing numbers. But it’s incredibly emotionally honest, vulnerable and allows the listener the opportunity to interpret what is being presented as they would like. An exploration of how identity often feels very different in isolation then it does when we are out in the public eye OR rather when we presenting ourselves to the world.
The album features ten tracks which all have that strong vocal-based sensibility, but in particular my personal favourites are Luck Stuck, Baby Boy, No Culture, and Everything Is Happening.
Opener track Free is notable for its strong percussion and anthemic like qualities. Quickly followed up by Love Stuck (the second single) and The Drugs (the first single) which both maintain that stadium quality, very upbeat with sharp hooks and strong vocals.
When we head into the rest of the album it doesn’t maintain this pace, but the intensity shows up in other ways – Back In School is an ode to pop punk, Mouth of the Devil plays with some dark tones and unified vocals, while Family is a sentimental power ballad.
Also title track No Culture is kind of brilliant.
It focuses on the problems which all artists that work against within the realm of pop music face, the challenge of all style-no substance. And the track makes a lot of allusions to scavengers/predators, while exaggerating how Mother Mothers critics view them. It’s definitely a highlight of the album, which makes up for weaker tracks like Letter and Worry. And I say that knowing that Mother Mother are capable of making slower tracks work for them, Everything Is Happening is one of my favourite songs remember? And how could it not be? They make a reference to the cyclical nature of music and David Bowie.
As a means of praise, and in the style of repetition, I’ll simply write this – keep on, keeping on.
As I close up this review, I recall something my first LT partner used to say to me on occasion when she was upset with my decisions, and which I now can see for the gas-lighting techniques that they are, that I made said decisions just to please my mom. She believed that I had no culture of my own, but that’s just not true, and Mother Mother it’s not that way for you. Either.