Despite being largely unknown on these shores, San Francisco’s The Mommyheads have been in operation since the late 1990’s but even then they were a band out of time choosing to proffer prog rock and power pop whilst their contemporaries took the grunge route to stardom. However, they are still an active operation and might just have the last laugh with their new album.
Their style is encapsulated in the first song from ‘Vulnerable Boy’. What begins as a piano ballad has morphed into a power-pop/prog concoction by its denouement. The fondness for complex movements is a regular theme on the album and tracks such as ‘Gimme Silence’ and some of the songs in the second half of the record seem to value experimental challenges above addictive songwriting.
Yet such indulgences are forgiven when one hears a track as warm and melodic as ‘Science And Reason’, where the ambition is matched by a lovable song. Indeed, a cracking chorus is never far away (most notably for ‘Medicine Show’) and there’s also some uncharacteristically incisive moments at the centre of the record; namely a new wave track called ‘Skinny White Uptight’ and the minimal funk of ‘Devastate Me’. Gems are more difficult to find thereafter but ‘Bleed From A Glass’ offers a neat modern alternative to Procol Harum’s ubiquitous ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’.
Since The Mommyheads are unashamed of their prog-rock influences, there are one too many moments of clever indulgence here. Yet at the heart of the album is an eagerness to charm and a tunefulness to rival those other great purveyors of power pop, Jellyfish.