Bigger is Better, Size Does Matter, Turn It Up To 11; these were all familiar idioms of late 20th century postmodern excess and gluttony. Give us everything you’ve got and more; the 12 piece reggae band, the supersized deluxe meal with bacon, cheese and chipotle (chips and dips included), the Renault Espace fully equipped with rear enforced ball-bags, half a dozen cup-holders and a fully adjustable mini-disc shelf available in 50 shades of zebra print. An introductory mouthful of convoluted words that have no intrinsic meaning, simply for the shock and awe. It’s all tassels on the titties, marketing in free fall.
Nobody wanted austerity, but here we are banging mammoth tusks on clod, racking up a prevolutionary cacophony not heard since the ground shook with volcanic eruptions and such. Stripped down and back in the cave is where we find this mammalian band of reprobates. In the Land Of Giants is where they dwell, a time when percussive thunder and riffs ruled the earth. To cut the crap, all we wanted was value for money, bang for our buck, and hence we got bands like DFA1979, Metz and God Damn giving us their big sound in a small package. That idea, a sonic TARDIS if you will, has become a tradition, and one of its most bombastic followers happens to be a three-piece rock band from Widnes called Mums. Who else lid?
Appearing sans bass guitar, Mums is comprised of Jack Evans, guitar/vocals; Roanne Wood, guitar/vocals; and Lewis O’Neil on drums. The band have been roaming the planet for a few years now, after a few releases and names changes (f/k/a Aeroplane Flies High and then Mothers) we finally have their first proper full-length to indulge in. And by ‘eck, it’s it a proper belter!
All three members push the boundaries of how loud they can play their instruments, which makes for a rather unique sounding record indeed. As the melodic vocals surge for air beneath the waves of distortion and avalanching drums, it’s when Mums hit their downtime that we really appreciate the inherent warmth of their music. It’s not all tooth and claw, it’s more like the heat of the sun bursting through the atmosphere. It’s a vitalic excitement of molecules, real life vibrations. You can hear the speakers rattling and shuddering towards the point of complete collapse. It goes beyond what so many of their peers dare to do with heavy music because this sounds raw and unruly, ignorant and yet experimental. A prehistoric beast that cannot be contained.
In a series of ten cataclysms, Mums construct an awesome wall of noise that is just as pretty as it is violent. Evans’s vocal melodies dance with his and Wood’s guitar lines like lava oozing and spewing from below. In tracks like ‘Rosies Noisey’ it can seem utterly chaotic, but it always funnels itself into a catchy refrain (“You’ll find a way! Find your way home!”). ‘Teamin’ seems like the band are reaching breaking point with its lackadaisical guitar chimes teetering on the edge of atonality. It’s both slacker and stoner starring in their own buddy movie, dragging and coughing up trouble and shenanigans.
‘Can of Worms’ is perhaps my favourite on here, showcasing Mum’s classic use of dynamics and switching of tempos, creating an absurdist fairground ride that reaches dizzying heights with nauseating levels of feedback. It’s a track that will make you laugh and smile simply because it is a pure representation of a band having fun and getting away with madness.
Mums are one of only two bands i’ve seen to have blown out the front skin of a kick drum (basic GSCE physics tells us that’s quite a feat), so it’s no surprise that the awesome raw power of Lewis O’Neil’s swaggering gallop in ‘COPS’ is what charges us heroically towards the back end of the album. You’d think by now the sheer volume of this record would have physically worn me down, but it’s the spindly off-colour harmonic tones, the kind of ammo that Slint glock out on (albeit 40 decibels higher), that enable me to push on. There’s beauty in their decay.
Finishing up with lead single ‘In A Museum’, which again staggers with their typical lazy natured groove, with an attitude of audacity and an “oooing” a chorus – a molten lullaby dribbling out between the hairy thighs of Weezer and Biffy Clyro. This is heavy pop in need of a shave, but it’ll round-house kick that razor straight out your hand before you can say “Son I really think you could do with a trim, then you might be able to get a proper job in an office or something where they pay you enough so that one day you can afford to put us in a decent care home” …or something like that.
Bands like Mums, bands that are loud as fuck and tour a lot, always struggle to get their live sound captured correctly in the studio. It is to their benefit then that Mums have adopted a minimal production approach on Land Of Giants. Less is certainly more in this case. To the untrained ear this could be what a great live album actually sounds like. It’s the truest representation we could ask of Mums and it’s a job well done! It is the sound of naivety exchanging flirtatious looks with cockyness. It’s arousing, exciting and exhausting, but it’s totally worth falling in love with.