by Matt Keim
Motherhood bring out the supremely weird in each other and deliver an album of delights because of it. The three-piece from Fredericton, New Brunswick have been touring both Canada and the US for several years, and they are releasing their new album, Dear Bongo, right before heading out on another. This gives everyone in North America a chance to catch them live, and is it ever worth it, because the album doesn't so much take you on a ride as it does roll with you down a hill, laughing and shouting.
Leading the way down is Brydon Crain on vocals and guitar. He sings with a bit of a twang, yells with pain, and is willing to fling out a yodel or two. The cracking of his vocal cords gives strength to the tongue twisters he spews, and in the quieter moments, his voice shows tenderness, belying the outer shell of whimsy he wields the rest of the time. As a counterweight to Brydon is Penny Stevens almost whispered falsetto. Sometimes trading back and forth and sometimes locking together in harmony, the friction between their voices is the most unique aspect of a band that is already going to do whatever they please, and it's always the most exciting part because of it.
That's not to discount the wacky grooves laid down by drummer Adam Sipkema or Penny's bass and synth work, as they get a chance to shine during the several instrumentals, but the best moments on this album come when all of Motherhood fly together through genres and ideas à la “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On the stunning “Way Down” and the one-two punch of “Pick of the Pugs” into “Hallway,” the weird world of Motherhood churns itself up to reveal moments of beauty, melody, and intensity. It's these moments that make the album such a delight, and it's a credit to both Motherhood's talent, as well as their trust in each other, that they can make such strong choices sound so correct. So go ahead and take a tumble. Fall on down the hill. Let Motherhood lead you into their wonderful world.