Single Mothers - Negative Qualities (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Single Mothers

Negative Qualities (2014)

Dine Alone Records

Single Mothers are full of negative qualities. Lyrically, it's obvious. But music—wise, it's totally the opposite. Remember "Winter Coats" from these dudes? One of the most jacked—up jams ever. That was the moment I fell in love with Single Mothers. Jeremy Bolm touted them as one of the most energetic, amped bands around and safe to say that upon exploring them, the Ontario natives were definitely living up to billing. Their 2011 EP proved why. They had a lot of pent—up rage, frustration and decadence to release and write/sing about. In terms of melodic hardcore, unabashed punk and don't—give—a—fuck lyrics, this debut LP really hits all the notes they've struck in the past (which made them more than likeable) and further allows them to flesh out their sound. More completely at that. It's what you more. Negative Qualities is the dominating and harsh piece of music you expected from them, intended to shake people down and take your hand to scribble this record down as a contender for top ten of 2014. It's that intrusive.

The record's full of attitude and feels like a middle—finger in your face. Snarky, sarcastic and condescending. All mapped out over punk at breakneck speeds while Andrew Thomson spews his usual rants on drugs, alcohol, girls, sex, basements, blackouts and all the frowned—upon shit in society. It's so obnoxious and immature that you wonder when or if he'll ever get into clever lyrical territory and dump this frat boy gig, but what shocks you the most is how much of a fuck you end up NOT giving, because the music is that friggin' good. "Marbles," "Womb" and "Half—Lit" are examples of their sneering sound that rub them as angrier than ever. Refreshing nonetheless. Why? Because amidst this bratty disposition, you've got amazing punk riffs, frenetic drum work with cymbals crashing and matching the lo—fi feedback, and overall, you're swamped with Single Mothers' distorted, sweaty basement fuzz —— all painting their portrait as damaged goods oh so well.

Thomson's slurred anecdotes never wear off. These tirades feel so real and relatable that even when he doesn't bother to sing along (and yeah, he really makes no effort at times), you're still reeled in. There's a drunk vocalist and band—demo feel that creeps in a lot (and at times, it's too overwhelming) which also leaves you in awe at how messed up their band room/recording sessions must be. Another big plus is how they maintain this vibe. It's consistent and make no mistake —— maintaining such a steady, bitchy banter ain't easy. In fact, this album feels like its made for Punknews commenters. "Crooks" and "Patricide" help keep the spine of the record wrapped in this cantankerous pace and it's this heavy momentum that cements why Single Mothers were always spoken of so highly, especially by fans of their live shows. They never let up. It's a lot to take in at times but never tedious. I love how they come off so natural as well. Totally raw and unforced and it's this kind of liberal sound that I think most bands are missing nowadays. They certainly shove that X—factor in your face.

By the time the melodic and catchy "Money" closes off the record, you get a better idea of how their scope really played off. You also see hints at how variable they can be and which they'd probably tap into later down the line. Too early in the game to show all their cards, right? Ultimately, these 10 tracks are nothing too broad in terms of narrative but as pigeonholed as they may seem, Single Mothers play to all their strengths pretty solidly. This particular track's so beautifully crafted even as Thomson spurts his rude candor over silky smooth indie riffs (which trust won't get much of from Single Mothers right now). This acts as their ballad of sorts and is a great touchpoint to show that they can mix it up within all the moshing, thrashing and unruly behavior. Make no mistake, Negative Qualities is rowdy. It's boisterous punk with just enough melodic hardcore embedded to ensure that Single Mothers won't be on any Joyce Manor bills anytime soon.