Like most of my reviews, I listened to the sophomore album of LA’s Momma without knowing anything beforehand, and it completely went over my head. The sludgy pop/alt rock sound that I thoroughly enjoyed during my first listen with its gloomy atmosphere and charming-but-edgy vocals came to reveal its sinister undertone on my second go around. I saw the skeletons that it so deftly hid as I dug deeper and deeper. Two of Me is a concept album that finds its characters in the Bug House – a version of hell where masses of transgressors congregate.
Songwriters Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten aren’t afraid to get graphic with their imagery. Don’t be fooled by the alluring tone of their stacked up vocals or the unassuming catchiness of their songs. Two of Me is an exploration of the darker part of ourselves that we hide from others. Its lyrics are rife with abrasive images and characters which can go from self-depreciating to self-loathing.
“Biohazard” represents the overall attitude and tone of the album. With tense sonic textures in it’s instrumentation and a spiteful vocal delivery: “You took my muzzle off / You bastard / You know I’m a hazard.” “Double Dare” sounds more playful and jangly, until the irony jumps out at you like a sucker-punch. It has the melody of a children’s rhyme but it could beat you up like a playground scuffle: “Trigger happy kids Ring around the tussle pleasing bits Pockets full of molars as they fall”.
As for the band’s sound, it’s varied enough to keep you entertained, with hazy chords and appropriate loudness depending on what the song needs. No doubt owing to the prowess of other bandmates Zach Capitti Fenton on drums and Sebastian Jones on bass. In “Derby”, Momma calls for a grungier urgency with heavy distortion. “Ready Runner” is slow and meek, with vocals that could lull you into a trance.
One of my favorites is “Roach Head”, with its swaggering pace and the low growl of the guitars, like a rabid dog that’s measuring its prey. It explores the addictions and obsessions that seeps into our heads and controls our every whims. I still shudder every time Weingarten and Friedman croons through the chorus: “I drink the dopamine inflicting your pain.”
The remarkable thing about Two of Us is how Momma presents its characters and images in a matter-of-fact way and leaves it to the listener’s interpretation. We all have a different shade inside of us, and this album invites us to take a look at it and examine what lies underneath.
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