Saturday, November 3, 2012

CD Odyssey Disc 454: Mother Mother

I am just back from breakfast out with Sheila and a small shop, during which I picked up some interesting beers and one of the few Okkervil River albums I was missing.  I’m quite excited about experiencing them both.

Disc 454 is… Eureka
Artist: Mother Mother

Year of Release: 2011

What’s up with the Cover?  Is it a tiger, a lion or a Technicolor liger?  Who cares – I find the excess use of colour to create a party vibe too artificial for my tastes.

How I Came To Know It:  Our friends Joel and Sherylyn introduced us to Mother Mother, when they bought me the previous album for my birthday (O My Heart – reviewed back at Disc 167).  Joel and Sherylyn have since moved to Vancouver and we miss them around the place!

How It Stacks Up:  We have three Mother Mother albums.  Of the three, I put Eureka third.  I still enjoy it, but I don’t think it has the range either musically or lyrically of the other two.

Rating:  3 stars

I think every pop band should take their turn at writing a dance album.  After all, dancing is a big part of pop music and why shouldn’t we lighten up once in a while and focus giving our booties a good shake about the place?

“Eureka” is Mother Mother’s dance album, where they turn up the disco and turn down the indie.  The result is something in between Cake and Scissor Sisters, probably a little closer to the latter.

Fortunately I like Scissor Sisters, and “Eureka” has the same fun, seemingly effortless grooves that had me lasciviously swinging my hips around on more than one occasion (albeit principally in the relative privacy of my living room or the building’s elevator).

Lead singer Ryan Guldemond has an airy, lighthearted voice that is well suited to the silly but catchy songs that populate “Eureka” and the background cooing of sister Molly and (distractingly hot) keyboardist Jasmin Parkin are the perfect offset to the music.  This is an album that makes you want to call up friends and go and hit the nightclub scene.

The best song on the record is “The Stand” a playful song featuring ‘women who straddle’ ‘paradise spread out with a butter knife’ and ‘vodka on ice’ the latter tastefully accompanied by hearing the cubes clinking into a tumbler.  The song is filled with synthesizer tracks that would be equally at home in 1977 or 1987, proving that catchy head-bobbers like this song are really timeless.

I also like “Original Spin” which starts with a flamenco guitar riff that reminded me strongly of a similar guitar in Leonard Cohen’s song “Teachers.” The similarities end there, however, as Mother Mother launch into a whimsical look at the Earth, as a planet floating through space so insignificant, yet unique and beautiful.  Jamiroquai would be proud how the band combines a whimsical look at the cosmos with unifying notions of how we’re all down here working it out as one people, spinning together.  Not exactly as deep as “Teachers” but it has its moments, and is way more upbeat.

For all the fun I had on this record, there are only a few songs that really stand out.  The others are great for establishing a party mood, but nothing to really write home about when given a closer inspection.

Also lyrically the songs are fun and catchy, but ultimately empty of much deep meaning.  I don’t hold this against “Eureka” – it is dance music after all – but I also can’t deny I often look for more interesting topics on at least a few of the songs on a record.

I recently bought Sheila Mother Mother’s new album, “The Sticks” for her birthday, and I gave it a quick listen before writing this review.  “The Sticks” returns to their more unique indie sound, similar to “O My Heart” although a bit more polished.  It reminded me that while I like working my middle aged white man’s overbite on the dance floor as much as anyone, I prefer Mother Mother when they tone it down a bit.

Despite some misgivings, I can’t deny that “Eureka” is a great time, and a well written record.  It doesn’t pull on my heart strings but it gets me out of my chair and puts a smile on my face, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Best tracks:  The Stand, Original Spin, Problems.

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