Canadian indie rock group Mother Mother just released their sixth album, No Culture, on Friday. While the title suggests that Mother Mother defies any specific label, this album shows the group returning to the more acoustic and pop roots of previous albums like The Sticks and Eureka. The tracks on No Culture sound a bit more produced than some of their older songs, but across the 10 tracks it’s clear that the group hasn’t lost the playful energies and percussive power that have characterized their sound in the past.
No Culture features 10 new songs, including the single “The Drugs,” and runs a short but sweet half-hour of enjoyable synth beats, acoustic ballads, and chanting anthems. The unique album art, featuring a paint-stained baby figure on a white background, suggests that the band is using this entry into their discography to explore their own impressionable place in music, straddling various identities and styles. At glance the runtime of the album seems a bit short to fully explore the conceptual depth the band is capable of.
The first three songs on the album all revolve around the theme of love, and while they contrast and complement each other well, the trope of comparing love to a drug seems a little less lyrically inspired than other tracks. The opening song, “Free,” has a catchy stomp beat and reverb that makes the recording sound like a stadium-shaking performance. The songs border chaos and comfort, with chilling instrumentals and catchy lyrics creating a sense of engagement with the music that isn’t the typical indie rock listening experience.
The album loses some of that energy during slower tracks like “Letter” and the opening segment of “Baby Boy” (before the track kicks up to some of the more chaotic breathing and instrumental flurry that recalls the vibe of their album “The Sticks” from 2012). Acoustic ballad “Family” closes the album on a bittersweet but uplifting note, encapsulating the talents of all five band members. Ali Siadat’s drums sound fairly uniform throughout all ten tracks, but the beat stays enjoyable as the vocal and keyboard energies flex their variability across the whole half hour.
Mother Mother does best on this album when they keep up the percussive beats and vibrant synth sounds that most heighten the call and response choruses. Thankfully, most of the tracks follow Mother Mother’s undefinable alternative rock style, keeping this newest release feeling fresh and exciting for longtime listeners.
My personal favorite song from the album is “Love Stuck,” with the brother-sister vocalist duo of Molly and Ryan Guldemond providing interesting harmonies that keep your ears at attention. It is one of the more ambitious entries to No Culture. This, along with track “The Drugs,” is one of the most pop-rooted songs on the album.
This latest release from Mother Mother definitely succeeds in representing a wide range of styles and sensibilities that truly suggest the band does have no culture, in the sense that they don’t belong to any one category of music. Except for a few slow moments, the tracks seamlessly flow with energies and beats that blend into one another but remain distinct enough to demonstrate the band’s versatility. It’s a strong step forward for the group while also calling back to Mother Mother’s musical roots. No Culture is definitely all fun.