Fredericton's Motherhood Make Refinement a Breeze on 'Winded'

BY Johnny JamesPublished Jun 23, 2022

Fredericton's Motherhood have delivered some of the most unique releases in the area's music scene for the last decade. Due to their habit of smashing their own mould to reinvent themselves with each effort, they are one of the first names that should come to mind when recommending a sample of the New Brunswick capital city's sound.
The band's sound has changed from that of 2013 debut Diamonds and Gold, morphing into the grimy grooves of 2018's Baby Teeth and the colourful, psychedelic nature of 2019's Dear Bongo. On fourth full-length Winded, the band slow that roll for a more reflective batch of tracks that revisit and refine the best elements of their previous work.
Opening two-parter "Crawly" is structured very much like Motherhood's "Tin Can Beach" from Baby Teeth, with skipping drums, surf rock guitar and a quirky swing in the latter half. Tracks like "Flood" and "Ripped Sheet" draw each note out in a slow, swaying sing-along, or throw them in your face with voice-cracking screams reminiscent of those on the band's debut and sophomore records. Cuts like "Shepherd" and "Shuttered Down," meanwhile, bring back the ominous, droning synths and playful rhythms of Dear Bongo.
Like their previous efforts, Motherhood's strong lyrical themes are accentuated by well-written lyrics, stellar imagery and memorable choruses. Vocalist Brydon Crain evokes many painfully relatable pictures of mental taxation and exhaustion, like guiding a sick and lost herd to the edge of a cliff on "Shepherd," or losing control of the wheel, unable to turn, and yet steering through the curve on "Handbrake."
These moments are further strengthened by the group's continued use of unique vocal patterns, and more specifically, assonance in passages like the final lines of "Shepherd": "...the scattered inner-chatter when the passages were bleak / And it passes at a creep / Like molasses at my feet / And I mark it by the gnashing of my teeth."

While Crain's twangy and often frantic voice does well in narrating each track's story, bassist-keyboardist Penelope Stevens scores the album deeper with playful ad-libs and backing vocals, heard most notably on "Tabletop" and "Shuttered Down." The stripped-back rhythm section of Stevens and drummer Adam Sipkema also work to help the most interesting sections of the record pop, like the reverberating synths of "Trees" or the fuzzy punk guitars of "Tabletop."

While the band breathe a good amount of new life into their refined musical ideas, this process is a double-edged sword. For those unfamiliar with Motherhood's style, Winded gives a good look at the avenues the group has pursued to this point. However, if you have been listening for a while, it won't stand out as much from what you have already heard.
(Forward Music Group)

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