Mothers is a band that originally consisted of Kristine Leschper as a sort of lo-fi folk project – think early Angel Olsen, Waxahatchee and Elliott Smith. And her voice is something else; that has to be acknowledged from the start. The band are from Athens, Georgia, but that doesn’t stop a little Australian Courtney-Barnett-accent creeping in (Even the title of the album is very similar to Barnett’s), mixed with Angel Olsen’s 60s singer-songwriter style. The album catches you off guard at every chance, beginning with a quiet folky charmer in ‘Too Small For Eyes’, the dream-pop of ‘Copper Mines’ and the emotional pounding of ‘Hold Your Own Hand’, which simply can’t be defined by a couple of words. The whole album is cohesive in its genre-straddling by launching itself from the umbrella of folk, but isn’t afraid to stretch itself and Leschper is more than happy to fill in the blanks with her self-lacerating lyrics that draw the same kind of blood that Julien Baker did on her debut. Now, less of the folky comparisons, on with why this record is so good.
‘Hold Your Own Hand’, is, as mentioned, the best song on this album. It’s like Mothers have given themselves the task of making an off-kilter noise-rock song, but keeping all of their folkisms intact. The last half of the song is like a waltz on a carousel, soft red and yellow lights spinning around and around, a sweet smell in the air, childish innocence. That might sound like an overblown comparison, but it really does. The transition between arpeggiated electric guitar and bass-heavy drums and the quick-pace carousel section complete with these dual guitars playing off one another up and down is magical. The lyrics are more sparing on this track, but Leschper completely takes the spotlight anytime her and her voice take centrestage and the instrumentation takes a backseat. She sings ‘I think I could learn to love’ and ‘Keep those little hands / Right in your pockets’. ‘It Hurts Until It Doesn’t’, which features some of the liveliest drums on the record from Matthew Anderegg, is an example of Leschper’s strongest writing, where she sings about being ‘crushed by the weight’ of her own ego, but only noticing when she died. It’s about the inner turmoil of baring her soul as a songwriter and not appearing too self-centred or ego-centric. Lines like ‘I don’t like myself when I’m awake’ perfectly sum up the hyper-ego or the crippling self-doubt that people, especially the current generation, face. It’s almost like a face that people put on, to appear overly-confident or under-confident an nobody’s content to sit inbetween. Mothers tackle the topic neatly and add some dreamy instrumentation as a bonus.
The sound that Mothers have happened upon was bound to charm us, as we’re pretty biased to that indie-folk sound that many bands are perfecting, but Mothers stand out pretty well. They could’ve very easily made a debut much like Daughter’s If You Leave, all sad imagery and quiet acoustic indie, but instead they have plenty of variation in the songs and they don’t feel like they have to make three-or-four minute tracks, letting the songs play out not in a Sonic-Youth-freaky way, but just letting a guitar line hang in the air for a minute before moving onto the next verse. They’re in no rush, and that’s appealing. For that reason, fifty minutes of When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired doesn’t drag and Mothers don’t seem like the kind of band to jog out a quick thirty minute debut and quickly let it fade away. These are the debut albums we need.
Funnel Recommends: It Hurts Until It Doesn’t / Hold Your Own Hand / Accessory Cloud