Single Mothers storm into their second album with all the thunder and lightning that has earned them a growing following in Canada and elsewhere in the past few years — despite the London, ON band living a volatile existence that has seen them go through at least 16 different members and threaten to implode at several turns.
"Undercover" leads off Our Pleasure with singer Drew Thomson's infamously caustic, candid delivery, and launches a three-song assault that finds them in the same wheelhouse of snide, high-octane punk as their 2014 debut Negative Qualities. After that, though, we see a different Single Mothers start to emerge.
This band aren't necessarily letting off the gas pedal or shifting gears, but they're on a slightly smoother ride. Rather than continuing to bludgeon listeners with riffing and shrieking, Our Pleasure has an ample helping of melody, harmony and general tunefulness that the band had only somewhat dabbled in on earlier tracks like "Money" and "Heaven (for the Weekend)."
Here, the evolution can sometimes be clunky, like on "A-Ok" and "People Are Pets," when Thomson's vocal venom and the band's brash tendencies clash in some ways with the songs' brighter moods. But with "Leash" and "Bolt Cutters," they find a softer side that works quite well; each is lifted by a nicely harmonized chorus, and beneath the blown-out speakers is timeless songwriting that could be stripped down to the bones and still stand on its own.
Yet interspersed amid these more melodic tracks are some of the band's heaviest and harshest cuts — the pounding beat and queasy imagery of "Bile," the fang-toothed rage of "Well-Wisher" and the rock'n'roll riffing of "Rollercoaster" among them — as if needing to make up for getting a bit too sappy. Meanwhile, "High Speed" might be the most archetypal Single Mothers song; it's a loud, coarse and full-mouthed romp that finds Thomson at his most snarky, sassy, self-referential and self-deprecating: "Here's my pledge of allegiance to the kids I can already hear making fun of this. I respect a good quip. In fact, I'm looking forward to reading it. Here's my pledge of allegiance to the kids I can already hear making fun of this. 'I like the older shit. Whatever happened to Single Mothers?'"
This is a band that are doing what they want, how they want. And in classically punk fashion, they really don't seem to give a shit whether anyone likes it or not. (Dine Alone)