2 x Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Sharp edges prevail on Mothers’ second album, Render Another Ugly Method. It’s a collection of songs connected more by the strength of Kristine Leschper’s creative vision than any kind of sonic thread—unless you count the air of claustrophobia the Philadelphia-via-Athens, GA indie rockers build into an almost palpable force. These songs disorient by design, and are full of stuttering drums and guitar parts that veer from sinuous to tangled as Leschper considers power dynamics, and digs into a fascination with what it means to inhabit a body. In her world, bodies seem to differ in size based on context, and she longs for the day when she can live without having a body at all.
That’s a lot to take in, but Mothers aren’t offering definitive answers so much as exploring ideas through abstract, seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics. If you want to come along, the more the merrier. Just don’t be surprised when things get uncomfortable—and they will. “Blame Kit” races along like an over-caffeinated heartbeat, while “Western Medicine” twists and turns its way through knotty musical passages that eventually crumble into unstructured chimes of guitar and the booming thud of a drum. The scraping guitar riff on “Baptist Trauma” mostly lurks behind a clattering stop-start beat, occasionally lurching into the foreground while Leschper’s multi-tracked vocals unfold in a slow, measured cadence that never quite floats free of the turmoil surrounding her voice. The effect is unsettling, but not as much as the awkward desire she evokes on “Pink.” Here, Leschper sings over a swift, bass-heavy musical drone that chugs along for more than five minutes before dissolving into chaotic bursts of distortion.
Amid the noisy elements, there are moments of quieter unease. “Mother and Wife” broods darkly, with a distant effects-treated guitar winding slowly through a synthesizer miasma. Opener “Beauty Routine” starts with murmuring vocals over gauzy, restrained accompaniment before building into something bigger and bolder. Though Render Another Ugly Method can sound haphazard at times, it’s an illusion: these songs are meticulously intentional, and often downright mesmerizing to hear.