It is a conundrum that every rock critic has to face. As much as we always want to hear something original, once in a while we hear a band that is so unique that it is practically impossible to describe. Vancouver-based quintet Mother Mother, whose debut CD, Touch Up, comes out today on Last Gang Records, is one of them.
The band grew out of the trio of Ryan Guldemond (vocals, guitar), his sister Molly (vocals) and Debra-Jean Creelman (vocals). Although the sound is filled out somewhat by a bassist and drummer, it's the distinctive tight-knit harmonies of the three of them over Ryan's acoustic guitar playing, that impress throughout the CD.
The sound of three voices and one guitar may seem like it could get boring after a while, but Mother Mother keep it interesting with innovative stops and starts, shifting time signatures, and a whole lot of quirk. If you don't like the way a song sounds, wait a few seconds, because it's bound to change.
Their versatility also comes in handy, ranging from "Train," which features some wonderful folk guitar fingerpicking, to the Broadway-meets-European-cabaret stylings on "Love And Truth," and the shiny choruses on such songs as "Polynesia," "Oh Ana," and "Legs Away" display a facility with pop hooks. Such complexity and diversity makes it impossible to predict where the songs are going, but the more you listen to it, the more their charms become apparent.
But your ability to enjoy Mother Mother might be affected by the weather. I listened to it on a drizzly, windy day and couldn't understand any of it. Then I played it on a gloriously sunny afternoon, and fell in love with it. And with 13 songs clocking in at a breezy 40 minutes, Touch Up is bound to have at least one tune that you will find essential on your summer playlist.