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Intensely Personal, Mothers’ Sophomore Record Finds Them Most Engrossing

Rating: 4.5 stars

“Render Another Ugly Method” is the second proper LP from the indie group Mothers. Their first album was the kind of pleasant mix of sad introspective indie that any listener couldn’t help but enjoy and relate to. That sense of meditating and thoughtful lyricism and melancholy, dreary-but-hopeful-just-when-you-need-it instrumentation is used nicely here on the follow-up. But while their debut functioned as an album that is a nice place to cozy up once in a while when one feels inclined, their sophomore album is a much larger and heavier work.

This second album doesn’t so much offer the listener a place to go when feeling a certain way, but instead commands the listener to enter the space and allow their emotions to be under their grasp through intense scenes that are displayed to almost surreal or abstract songs depicting their inner thoughts, all working together to provide a meaningful and unique space that gives a listener a wide array of experiences.

What is interesting are the many directions that Mothers is able to go musically on this album and still sound so coherent. The first track, “Beauty Routine” gives a slight impression that the group is picking up where their first album left off: folky, mellow, light guitar use, sporadic percussion. But it does not take long for a fuller and more engrossing song to take over. There are more electric guitar sounds, so there is more capability with noise and more variation with effects.

The lyrics are similarly thoughtful and poetic, though here they seem much more philosophical in a sense. The first stanza of lines flow in one line following the next without much feel for a verse or a chorus, giving a wonderful lulling drone that allows the listener to enter this atmosphere gently. The last minute of the song picks up in tension, letting the listener know that there is going to be more to the album than just a passive space.

There seem to be, in a way, two different sounds to this album, the first is the plodding slow and droning sound of the opening track, which is a contrast to the more fast and anxious sound on tracks like “Western Medicine” or “Circle Once,” which both come in the middle of the album. Tracks like these two have a more math-rock feel to them that features more unusual time signatures as well as a sort of stumbling feeling to the groove. This contrast in sounds is a plus because it gives the more anxious lines of the droning tracks a more applied demonstration as we begin not to simply hear about these small moments of dread or struggles with identity, but the music begins to mimic the tone of the lyrics.

“Render Another Ugly Method” is a rather encompassing and, in many ways, successful album from Mothers. There are many wonderful parts to this album and the progression rarely feels uneventful or repetitive. Here the group finds themselves moving from a small space of more private emotions on their first album to more of a depiction of these private spaces that resonate on larger-scale emotions. There aren’t many places to hide as a listener, and one will sympathize with every feeling of alienation and share in every promising moment when things improve, if only for a moment.

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