Album Review: The Sticks

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

Mother Mother continues its dominance of the Canadian indie-rock scene with the release of its latest studio album The Sticks.

Released on Tuesday, Sept. 18, The Sticks is Mother Mother’s fourth studio album and follows up 2011’s smash-success Eureka.

While the classic Mother Mother-sound is still present throughout the album, the overall mood of the work is much darker than what many are used to hearing from the Quadra Island, B.C. five-piece group.

“Omen,” a gloomy introduction, opens up the album with lead singer Ryan Guldemond setting the mood accordingly with a brief 66 seconds of pessimism, “Something about the world today makes a boy feel a bit insane,” Guldemond sings. “From daffodils to acid rain to anti-Christ on a tidal wave, but that’s all right, that’s OK. I can look the other way.”

The title track to the album follows “Omen,” but continues down the same dark path. With a slow and plodding drum track and an ominous guitar, “The Sticks” helps hammer home the overall tone of what is to come.

“Let’s Fall in Love” is the first single off the album and is more reminiscent of the upbeat, danceable Mother Mother that Eureka was celebrated for.

While not as political as acts like Anti-Flag, NoFX or other punk bands from the early- to mid-90s, Mother Mother has incorporated more political flavour to The Sticks than what was found on Eureka. “Businessman” is the most obvious example of this slightly political edge explored by the band.

That being said, there are certainly strong indie-pop cinnamon swirls wrapped within the dough of The Sticks. “Dread in my Heart” injects the classic Mother Mother acoustic-pop sound while juxtaposing it with less-than-upbeat lyrics such as, “There’s a god-awful, sh*tty feeling of dread in my heart and I can’t seem to change my attitude, but I can change my heart.”

“Infinitesimal” might be the grooviest track wedged in between the bookends of The Sticks and momentarily takes the album on a side-street from the dark path that it was originally travelling. The transition from gloomy to upbeat as “Dread in my Heart” bridges the two moods, easing into the funky “Infinitesimal.”

“Happy” functions as a bridge similar to “Dread in my Heart,” bringing the album back into the shadows.

The romantic “Love It Dissipates” is a quiet and calm break from the standard on the album, as Guldemond professes to the listener that he would be “your anything” and “your everything” through interesting metaphors such as, “If you were a smoke, I’d be your drag. If you were a junkie, I’d be your fix.”

Between “The Cry Forum,” “Waiting for the World to End” and “To the Wild,” The Sticks comes to an emotional close.

As a whole, The Sticks is darker than previous efforts by Mother Mother, but does not disappoint. It is easy to see the band is maturing and progressing, avoiding the tendency some indie bands have of burning into one consistent and regular sound.

The only real complaint I can voice about The Sticks is Mother Mother’s female vocalists, powerful contributors to previous studio releases, are not as prominently featured as I expected. “To The Wild” provides Molly Guldemond (sister of Ryan) and Ali Siadat with their greatest vocal contributions to the album.

If you enjoyed previous efforts by Mother Mother, you will no-doubt come to enjoy The Sticks. Be fore-warned: it may take a few thorough listens to warm up to the new material. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.