Published Feb 08, 2017Mother Mother have a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek relationship with their place in pop music that's front and centre on new album No Culture. The title track refers to pop's scavenging nature, with singer Ryan Guldemond identifying himself as an empty vessel, taking what he wants from the world and spitting it out as if it were a new creation.
Unfortunately, that self-awareness is ultimately drowned out by the tropes of pop music it critiques. "The Drugs" is a fun song with a solid hook, but its central metaphor of love as a drug feels a bit played out. The word "love" is used to such excess that one almost thinks the intent is to turn it into yet another meaningless sign, but then "Everything Is Happening" seems to suggest it as a panacea for a chaotic world.
No Culture's best moments are its most intense ones, such as the anthemic and powerful "Baby Boy," full of fantastic breath sounds. When the album slows down, the result is too often frustrating banalities like "Letter." Though the percussion is relatively uninspired and same-y throughout the record, it comes in strong on the great, rocking "Free" — but then doesn't go many other places.
There's still a sense that Mother Mother know what they are doing, though. The synth leads are strong, the songs are well-produced and constructed, and the male-female vocal harmonies still add playfulness and energy to the hooks. In the end, No Culture is a fun album, but it doesn't explore its deeper themes enough to justify sustained close listening.
Pick up No Culture here. (Universal)