Mother Mother's 'Inside' Is an Evergreen Pandemic Album

Mother Mother's 'Inside' Is an Evergreen Pandemic Album
Of all the 2000s rock bands to get huge on TikTok, who could have ever guessed that it would be Mother Mother? The Vancouver band released a couple of weird, genre-warping indie folk albums more than a decade ago, and since then have been humming along steadily as a moderately successful major label rock band. They had seemingly reached their final state.

And yet, practically overnight, Mother Mother are doing interviews with James Corden and Rolling Stone about their enormous success among Gen Z listeners and in the trans community. Not bad for a band 15 years and eight albums into their career.

Their latest LP, Inside, reunites them with producer Howard Redekopp, who they haven't worked with since 2008's career-best album O My Heart. While that choice of producer could cynically be interpreted as a way to cash in on O My Heart's sudden popularity, Inside doesn't actually sound much like their early music. Unlike the stripped-down quirkiness of their most beloved material, Inside is dense and dark, careening between inspirational anthems and heavy synth-rock.

As a pandemic record, it's sometimes a bit on-the-nose: it's bookended by the sound of people banging pots and pans in support of heath care workers, and several songs allude to isolation or include the word "inside." But for the most part, Inside grapples with issues of empowerment and self-love — timely themes that feel in-step with the band's younger fanbase.

The chugging rocker "I Got Love" and the hymnal "Pure Love" both celebrate an abstract, universal sense of love (rather than romantic); "Forgotten Souls" offers comfort for those dealing with mental health struggles or suicidal ideation, its acoustic stomp shifting into a direct allusion to the Pixies' "Monkey Gone to Heaven"; the new wave rager "Sick of the Silence" describes suppressed psychic pain, with singer Ryan Guldemond giving his most aggressive, guttural vocal performance yet. The reverb is thick, coating the album in a haze that's sometimes eerie, sometimes comforting.

Inside is an album of emotional extremes: "Weep" careens between heavily distorted riffs and quiet acoustic comedowns, while "Seven" and "Breath" are instrumental mood pieces that sound straight out of a horror movie. Guldemond tends to act as the group's raw-nerved id, while singer-keyboardists Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin occasionally take the mic to offer more calm, comforting coos (both as backing vocalists and as occasional leads).

It's may not sound much like O My Heart, but it's a compelling reflection of the mental turmoil that, for so many people, is bubbling just under the surface. Even if Inside is clearly inspired by the pandemic, its lessons are applicable anytime. (Warner)