“Bit by bit, gonna get my bricks out in the sticks/ Bit by bit, gonna build my house in the wildest thickets/ Gonna get away from all those mouths and my shit/ Gonna say good-bye to all the la-di-da-di-da-di-da-di-da,” Mother Mother’s singer and guitarist Ryan Guldemond sings on “Bit By Bit”, the song he calls the benchmark piece and anthem of The Sticks. And so it goes on this Canadian five-piece’s latest effort, an album about “longing to escape the clutches of the modern world.”
But retreating into solitude isn’t the only topic Mother Mother tackles here. With a dash of sarcasm, “Infinitesimal” addresses glassy-eyed, what-does-it-all-mean concerns (“Do you ever really think about the grains?/ Every little one’s got a million things/ Every little bit’s got a billion bits”); “Let’s Fall In Love”, albeit a cover, simplifies the heart (“Yuppies do it, junkies do it, funny little monkeys in the zoo do it”); and “Happy” questions what’s in a smile (“Happy is a diamond in the rough/ Happy, it ain’t enough”).
The album is about as unpredictable musically as it is lyrically, with “Let’s Fall in Love” eventually revealing dirty, “Supermassive Black Hole”-esque guitars, “Little Pistol” busting out strings and reserving into a fuzzy, evolving folk tune, and the drums on the title track revealing themselves as a dead-ringer for “When The Levee Breaks” (“… With that big ambience and the fat bass drum, it just makes sense to summon John Bonham. Why fight it?” Guldemond admits). Random though this journey into the Canadian countryside may be, it’s a damn fun ride. A pit stop in the band’s more folky past pops up on track five, the acoustic, vocal-driven “Dread In My Heart”, whose “We Are Going To Be Friends”-simplicity and lyrics like, “There’s a god awful shitty feeling of dread in my heart/ And I can’t seem to change my attitude, but I can change my heart,” effortlessly resonate.
Odd album opener “Omen” best embodies the spirit of these 14-tracks. A little boy’s voice (almost in the style of M83’s “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire”) accompanies Guldemond’s as they both proclaim over a piano, “There lies a place I might call home/ With a couple of sticks and a couple of stones/ I’ll dig a place and lay my bones.”
Essential Tracks: “Bit By Bit”, “Dread In My Heart”