When an album starts with dialogue instead of music, it requires more of the listener. It asks the listener to become active, to pay attention both to the album and to each track. Mother Mother introduces us to their third album, Eureka, with the song “Chasing it Down”; however, the album actually begins with a grand statement announced by a voice that makes one think of a 1960’s flight attendant: “Commonplace things seem to have great significance. Hi.” And then: a guitar solo soon accompanied by the rest of the five-piece band. Well, if commonplace things seem to have great significance, does that really make the unordinary insignificant? Mother Mother proves no: Eureka is not ordinary, but it does hold its significance in a way that invites us into its melodic variation and poignant lyrics.
Invites you to listen either on a November day when you want to feel that cool air against your face, or a summer road-trip south on California’s Highway One. Do not be turned off by the more abstract lyrics and titles. Eureka is accessible; you will like it for the catchy, gentle melodies, the dreaminess instead of dreariness found in even the most melancholy of songs on the album, the male-female vocal combination, and the right arrangement of drums, keyboard, bass, and guitar throughout.
With success at three Canadian music festivals, Mother Mother has gathered a fan base that has brought acclaim from many in Canada, and, undoubtedly, such acclaim will spread to the United States with Eureka. Combining the male-female vocals and indie-pop hints of The New Pornographers, and the profundity of an Arcade Fire album, Mother Mother has successfully created a solid and varied album complete with coy, clever dialogue between Ryan and his sister Molly; and moving lyrics—whether about dreamy vacations in “Getaway,” or the dim reality of handling it all in “Simply Simple.”
Eureka brings us up and down, pulls us in and out, in a way that is natural and welcome. The flirty dialogue in “The Stand” is clever and intriguing and the progression of the song inviting. While still engaging, “Born in a Flash” brings us down gently. It’s a surprise, but a welcome one, and the song serves as an opportunity to hear the range of melody this band is capable of; to hear the gentle nuances—the “click click” of a 35mm camera in the background—that make the album go in a direction we are ready for. “Simply Simple” and “Getaway” emote in a way that invites us in and even entices? us to stay longer, to keep listening, therefore providing a subtle momentum to the album.
The album ends with “Calm Me Down,” and what an ending to such a varied album. The song provides closure consistent with Eureka because of its flexibility; at first melancholic when Molly sings, “Calm me down…hold my head in your head in your hands to calm me down,” and then Ryan’s voice comes in. In contrast to Molly’s chaos, he brings resolution, and sings to us, repeatedly, what he wants: “I want to be a good man…I want to be your sweet son…I want to scream Eureka! I want to scream Eureka! I want to scream Eureka!” In the end, we know what he wants, and the entire album comes to a close.
Eureka almost has an old-fashioned feel to it. It begins with the monotone commercial voice, offers the actual “click” of a 35mm camera in “Born in a Flash,” and ends and encompasses itself with “eureka,” an ancient Greek word that makes up the more modern phrase, “eureka moment,” which implies a breakthrough moment, a moment of inspiration, or an exciting or significant experience. So, is this what Mother Mother wants from Eureka? We can never know for sure what Ryan means by his strong and repetitive desire to scream "eureka"; as Ryan sings in “Aspiring Fires: “I think you know what you know, but what you know you don’t know for sure.” What we do know is this: In Eureka, Mother Mother accomplishes something of a breakthrough, they offer inspiration, and listening to their album is an exciting and fresh experience. Sounds like Eureka to me.