Secret Meeting score: 80
by Philip Moss
David Bowie famously discussed on a number of occasions how he would piece together his lyrics using a cut up method first pioneered by the Dada movement, and later popularised by William S. Burroughs. And by the sounds of their sophomore album, Render Another Ugly Method, Mothers – led by Athens, GA native, Kristine Leschper – have taken this a step further and totally ripped up and pieced back together the musical compositions too.
Beauty Routine stumbles into view with lumbering drums, as Leschper’s voice (which has more than a shade of Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker about it), jumps into a falsetto. Before suddenly, out of nowhere, it changes pace and floating off in another direction with a repetitive guitar line and its macabre refrain – ‘Show me a beauty routine, and erase me completely’. At no point is the vocal melody what you would call ‘hooky’, but I think that is the point, and that’s kinda what makes it so addictive. The song feels like it’s been put together like a jigsaw, but the pieces are not necessarily slotted into the obvious places.
This is a theme throughout. Single, Pink, is ironically nearly seven minutes long, and over stabbed guitars and pulsating bass, Leschper spews her verses like a mantra. It is a Pleasure to Be Here is perhaps the most straight song on the record and even this is a twisted slice of Phil Elverum inspired folk with a dark, brooding underbelly. While Blame Kit, Baptist Trauma and Western Medicine are all vocally reminiscent of Cate Le Bon – with jagged drums, off kilter rhythms and structural tangents that seemingly appear out of nowhere – they would be right at home on Drinks’ brilliant record, Hippo Lite, from earlier this year.
This is pop music, but not necessarily as we know it. It’s not an easy listen, but it is proof that sometimes it is fun to break the rules. Because Render Another Ugly Method is all the better for it.