Southern Ontario post-hardcore heavyweights Single Mothers return with the surprise release of their new album, Through A Wall, from Dine Alone Records. Recorded with the core duo of frontman Drew Thomson, producer/percussionist Ian Romano (Attack In Black, Career Suicide, City & Colour) and a rotating cast of musicians, these 14 songs revive the raging sound of the band’s earliest output. While Single Mothers’ 2017 LP, Our Pleasure, acclaimed by outlets such as NOISEY, BrooklynVegan, Allmusic, and CLRVYNT, showcased poppier sides of Thomson’s songwriting, he has since found a separate outlet for those inclinations in his solo project The Drew Thomson Foundation. As a result, Through A Wall is packed top to bottom with blistering riffs, breakneck tempo shifts, and mosh-ready breakdowns, channeling the intensity of the group’s live performances.
Starting in the van while Single Mothers toured across North America in 2017 with Touche Amore, Gouge Away, and Little Junior, Thomson traded demos with Romano over email and recorded vocal takes on a USB microphone. After returning to his home in Hamilton, he completed the writing of the album while powering through its songs in a series of fiery studio sessions. Pitchfork has highlighted the band’s combination of “scab-peeling punk with speak-shout vocals reminiscent of The Hold Steady,” yet few may be prepared for Through A Wall’s volcanic eruptions of vocal cord shredding.
Thomson’s lyrics remain as candid as always, while infused with introspection from a newfound form of clarity in his personal life. “This was definitely the hardest album I’ve ever written lyrically, but also the quickest,” he explains. “It’s the first Single Mothers record I’ve made since getting sober and not having booze as a crutch to lean on for inspiration. I feel like I’ve hit a turning point in my life, so it’s a lot more of a personal album.”
This reflection begins on opener “Marathon”, as Thomson sings, “the messes I’ve made became your favourite stains.” First single “Switch Off” continues his process of accountability with an epiphany that shedding inner demons is a lifelong effort. “24/7” describes the draining routine of touring and recording, while “Big Scar” paints an alternate reality of becoming a cool dad with winking references to Pavement, Crass, The Replacements, and a “Black Flag shirt under your day job drab.” The melancholy sway of “Stoic/Pointless” tells a tale of failing relationships with a hopeful resolution, while “Across The Couch” includes a different kind of break-up as Thomson nods to his former hometown: “London always looked so pretty/But I don’t miss it anymore.” In the end, he gazes inward at his need to get clean, realizing he was “headed straight towards the wall” with “nobody left to call.”
Since their formation in 2008, Single Mothers’ only constant is change. With a perpetually revolving line-up that has even seen Thomson leaving the band, they have now settled into a Mark E. Smith and The Fall inspired operation where any collaborator is welcome to join him for the ride. “The door is always open,” says Thomson. “We just have a few guidelines: if the songs sound good and you’re a friend, you can play with the band any time. Once a Mother, always a Mother.”
Single Mothers - Our Pleasure
BSM 210 · June 2017