Mother Mother is a tough band to categorize. The Canadian quintet incorporates an array of genre-blurring sounds into their music, and with their latest release, The Sticks, there is isn’t much of a push to clarify any of that. The songs range from soaring acoustic ballads to edgier alternative chic to rousing dance pop, all the way back to metal-tainted industrial jams. However, one universal aspect to Mother Mother’s music is the attractive melodies. No matter the tempo, the band finds a way to make many of their tunes uniquely rhythmic and catchy. Though not always firing on all cylinders, The Sticks does include an impressive number of tracks with a Top 40 punch; a collection other bands would be lucky to put together over two or three albums, let alone one.
“Omen” is a delicate intro to The Sticks. It includes frontman Ryan Guldemond singing with a child over a simple piano melody. However, Mother Mother throw their first curve by segueing it into the heavy, Zeppelin-esque title song, “The Sticks.” It’s a steady and menacing tune. It triumphantly delves into that slow-building, industrial rock charm. “Bit By Bit” features the same type of charisma, yet accompanies it with more of a pop melody. The result is an enjoyable and entrancing rock anthem.
“Latter Days” successfully bounces out the reminiscence of video-happy Chicago band Ok Go. “Little Pistol” wonderfully spotlights the band’s ballad chops; more so than the following track, “Love It Dissipates,” which gets a little tedious with the analogies. Album closer “To The Wild” is maybe the finest on the album. It’s an enchanting, glimmering tune that faithfully channels that beloved, early 90s melancholy. A delightful close to the album.
With all the harmonious bright spots on The Sticks, it does falter at times lyrically. The drug and sex revealing on “Happy” comes off as overly literal and it distracts from an otherwise, pretty decent song. “The Cry Forum” suffers from much of the same fate. When writing songs about those matters you really have to be on point about what details you include. Sometimes a stark declaration works brilliantly. Other times, it can awkwardly miss.
Overall, The Sticks is an exciting album full of catchy, diverse tunes. Now on their fourth album, Mother Mother is still finding ways to keep things fresh. They have already achieved moderate success in Canada and the push now is for an American presence. The group definitely has the hooks and melodies to get on American radio, commercials, tv shows and whatever else. However, not all bands what to achieve success in that manner. Listening to The Sticks, it’s hard to tell what kind of band Mother Mother wants to be, as the album is edgier than your typical Top 40 rotation material. Yet, if something does catch fire, it will be interesting to see which of The Stick’s potential hit-makers will be the one to spark the attention.