Published Sep 05, 2018For a band like Single Mothers, the space between too little and too much is where their music has thrived; they're self-aware enough to self-critique while still embracing their own clichés. Those familiar with the London, ON band might expect the same old gimmicks, but seconds into their new album Through a Wall, roaring applause is brought to a halt as we're told to "SHUT UP!" This is not a suggestion, but a demand. This is a different Single Mothers, and they have something to say.
Through a Wall is an electrifying pastiche of '90s and '00s hardcore, where the band pays homage to a much more aggressive set of influences. The album's 14 tracks evoke the likes of American Nightmare, hurling frenetic guitar riffs in all directions while galloping drums propel most of the songs at an unrelenting pace.
On tracks like "Engine," Single Mothers are at their most abrasive; "Signs" and "Web" find them at their heaviest, and for the bulk of the album, singer Drew Thomson has never sounded more pissed off. However, even under a quasi-punk mask, Single Mothers' true colours still manage to shine through.
Thomson is as irreverent as you'd expect, but with a new heightened sense of vulnerability that listeners haven't heard. "I get choked up sometimes on the rides home / I get lonely sometimes on the rides home / I feel guilty sometimes on the rides home," he sings desperately here; the pursuit of change and the mental toll it can take is a recurring theme on this record.
The venture into new territory isn't completely without consequence. There are moments that come across as too try-hard or, worse, downright corny. The double-kick outro on "Catch & Release" is something that could — no, should — have been ditched. But moments like this are so few and far between that you'd likely forget before you'd feel the need to forgive.
On Through a Wall, Single Mothers have managed to preserve something old and mix it with something new — a simple yet often overlooked solution. The change we often need is the simplest one. Perhaps it'd be more obvious to the rest of us if, once in a while, we'd all just shut up. (Dine Alone)