Album review: Through a Wall

Punk band Single Mothers drops their newest album

Single Mothers are a hardcore punk band based out of London, Ontario.

Frontman Andrew Thomson spent his early adult life prospecting for gold in the same province. Prospecting is an act of eager apprehension, sifting through undisturbed raw material strewn throughout creeks and river basins in the wilderness in an attempt to find traces of gold that bring the promise of prosperity.

Hardcore punk has always been an oversaturated genre, chalked full of basement recordings embroidered with misdirected aggression and a healthy dose of post-teen angst. However, on their self-titled debut EP, Single Mothers struck gold. While the instrumentation was relatively uninspired, the release was bolstered to excellence by the cynically witty storytelling of vocalist Andrew Thomson.

The project was rich in personality and rather than the low fidelity recording being a distraction, it helped characterize the music. The band went on to release their first full-length album, Negative Qualities, which was a natural progression stylistically, but was spread thinly across the 10 song track list and resulted in a lacklustre effort.

Three years later, in 2017, the band released Our Pleasure, a fundamentally subdued radio friendly conceptualization of their previous work.

Their latest album, Through a Wall, is a return to form, to their early works. But rather than gold, we were given fools gold. The latest record is a hollow representation of early Single Mothers music. It’s abrasive and over-compressed, which on the surface represents legitimate passion, but on repeat listens it sadly falls short of any true emotion. Thomson’s vocals are mixed so vaguely in the cacophony of noise, that even if he had anything interesting to say it would be indecipherable and arduous to unearth. 

While this album channels the origins of Single Mothers, it also denotes an adherence to the post-hardcore tradition of heavy metal deference. Oddly, this is where the band shines brightest.

Catch and Release embraces the ferocity and double bass kick of crossover thrash, while Signs has a breakdown that would be commonplace in death metal. But while these moments are highlights of the album, they’re antithetical to Single Mothers’ framework. The band was good because they put their own unique spin on a tired genre, not due to the regurgitation of metal cliches.

The fleeting moments of excitement this album brings are the incorporation of cookie cutter techniques into an unconventional yet accepting style of punk. To quote Thomson, “I’ll say sorry but that doesn’t make it easy,” to listen to this album.

6.7/10 – A muzzled guard dog