by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
Render Another Ugly Method is the second release of former Athens, now Philadelphia residents Mothers, taking on new and entangled musical environs than It Hurts Until it Doesn’t, the debut from 2016. Kristine Leschper and bandmates mostly eschew the hushed and emotionally brutal elements of the debut and push and pull with each other through this sophomore effort. Leschper maintains distance through the fractured poetry in their lyrics, but this also gives greater freedom to explore thoughts and emotions on a different plane. Render Another Ugly Method’s musical heft adds structure and the chance to explore space and time signatures in different environs.
”Beauty Hit” slowly drifts along as Leschper’s vocals soar above brittle and chiming guitars ringing over a slightly glacial pace, until about two thirds through when everything opens up and Leschper hauntingly delivers the last lines of “…show me a beauty routine/to completely erase me.” “It Is A Pleasure To Be Here” once again allows Leschper to command attention over lightly strummed guitar and bass that dances in and out at opportune moments. Mothers use of atmosphere creates a tension that is captivating, and Leschper’s avant leaning lyricism and breathy vocals color the proceedings. “Baptist Trauma” is probably one of the more severe tracks on the record with snare and trap heavy drum-work fighting ticking and brittle guitar, before halting jarringly.
“Circle Once” carries a bit of brightness and sparkle that make it one of the standout performances here full of twisting guitar interplay before mellowing into an ethereal blanket before snapping back to life. Mothers twists, turns, and playfulness with tempo switches keep the listener active and alert. “Mother And Wife” is an exploration of sexuality and aging in relationships that is very memorable and contains somewhat uncomfortable beauty, as Leschper’s vocals float above an unsettling hum and chording guitars. “Wealth Center/Risk Capital” also adeptly tackles inhabiting a body that you may feel trapped in along with all the pains associated with it. Leschper switches between floating harmony and spoken word as she flatly intones “I am excited by the prospect of living/Without a body I am ungrateful.”
Render Another Ugly Method advances Mothers artistic outlook and asks the listener to open their mind to a different variant of lyrical and song structures. Mothers have added a bit of an updated call back to early-80’s post-punk atmosphere, while pushing their artistic boundaries. It’s fair to approach this record as a painted portrait of a moment that you may notice something unique every-time you interact with it. This record challenges you with its unique perspective on accepting yourself despite aging or things around you changing in ways you may not have anticipated. The growth as a band is very apparent and this record allows the listener to immerse themselves in an experience that at times is inscrutable, challenging, and full of beauty in the face of difficult adjustments that life brings to the fore.