MOTHERS: RENDER ANOTHER UGLY METHOD
Kristine Leschper told Loud and Quiet that the inspiration for naming her band, Mothers, was inspired by, “When a female rabbit gets pregnant, she starts pulling out all her fur with her teeth. They do this to build nests for their young before they’re born. And I thought that was such an interesting concept – that absolute sacrifice.” Mothers captures this with the declarative but surreal imagery they conjure, but also in the way they reimagine and re-contextualize ideas. Leschper distinguishes her voice by changing the questions rather than trying to find new answers -- in this example, changing the perspective of motherhood rather than finding a new take on maternity.
This dynamic between the rabbit mother’s robotic call to action and its sacrificial, emotive quality is mirrored in the contrast between the lush, surreal imagery Mothers is able to conjure and the matter of fact way they introduce it. Even viewed in a vacuum, lines like “I don’t like myself when I’m awake” or “I am excited by the prospect of living without a body. I am ungrateful and this proves it” evoke depth with minimal decoration as she peels back these concerns for the benefit of her audience. The music comes across as quiet, studied, observations presented without answers. One of the truly distinctive vocalists as well as lyricists making music right now, Leschper is so raw and delicate its like she’s improvising what note to visit next as she sketches floral silhouettes.
Mothers began as Kristine Leschper’s solo project as she studied printmaking in Athens. She gained traction with the Georgia music scene, recruited a band, and released When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired in February of 2016. The album was so distinctive there was no other option to channel the ethos they carry--if you had a Mothers song stuck in your head, no other band could scratch that itch; it was hard to listen to one of these songs without being drawn back into the world of its album. This grew into so much anticipation for this follow up as they were recently opening for Dr. Dog before the album release and with only the expanded version of “When You Walk” and a Spotify live session to keep momentum going.
The time spent in hiatus was filled by several internal switch-ups. The band relocated from Athens to Philadelphia, moved from Grand Jury to ANTI, and reorganized the band’s composition via adding math-rock drum god, Garrett Burck from Art Contest and his solo project, Isaak Pancake. Render Another Ugly Method sees the floral, folk direction of the debut album exchanged for a mosaic of math rock and slow anxieties. This change takes some of the warmth found in the debut with it but adds energy and dynamism. The lyrical style is similar, but where Leshper floats over rounded edges on “When You Walk,” she cuts quickly at obtuse angles in a way that matches the edges of the instrumental melodies favored on the record. The project is much colder than the folk-rock based tracks of the debut like the ukulele, piano, and violin backed “Too Small For Eyes.” The switch is able to work because Mothers uses the stylistic change to reframe their ethos instead of changing what makes them great.
The band’s Bandcamp page calls this project “an assemblage of personal vignettes and imagined scenarios that examines consent, escape of the body, power and powerlessness, and the act of making.” Mothers’ take on the act of making seems to be a layered approach. Lyrics are like someone consumed by isolation -- each line seems like a revision of a revision -- wandering uncertainly and indefinitely. “Beauty Routine” sees buoyant chords looking for a direction before suddenly finding an impulse, causing the rest of the band to follow suit. The flow of the album mirrors this, as the math rock temperament continues until the war march of “Baptist Trauma” brings a calm over the record until its conclusion. These latter songs making up more than half on the album are expansive, reaching almost eight minutes on a new interpretation of “Mother and Wife,” previously seen on the deluxe edition of the debut. “Fat Chance” also gets a lot of time to spread out as it plods deliberately through a snow-filled forest.
Mothers has just recently finished a US tour with Lala Lala and are resting up for an extensive set of European dates beginning in February. They have a nice selection of new merch on their bandcamp to support the new album and also some vinyl pressings of both projects.