It's one thing to be able to yell at people and make them know you're annoyed about one thing or another. It's another to do that and sound smart, convincing, articulate, and occasionally witty while still shouting your head off. Drew Thomson, leader of the London, Ontario-based punk band Single Mothers, showed he possessed that rare talent on the band's first full-length album, 2014's Negative Qualities. The band's follow-up, 2017's Our Pleasure, reveals he has only gotten better as a frontman during their three-year recording layoff; his skill as a storyteller, his sense of timing and dynamics, and his ability to occasionally sing when the song calls for it are all more potent this time out. He's a solid songwriter as well, and you're not going to hear many songs about pick-up culture ("Bile"), the judicial system ("People Are Pets"), or the ugly end of a relationship ("Bolt Cutters") that are as perceptive and as brutal as what Thomson brings to these sessions. If Our Pleasure doesn't quite match up to the frenetic brilliance of Negative Qualities, that has to do with the other members of the group. The lineup that cut the debut album splintered after a tour, and this time out, Thomson and drummer Brandon Jagersky are joined by a new guitarist (Justis Krar) and bassist (Ross Miller), and while they carefully follow the template the band established in the past and can certainly deliver a taut and efficient Wall of Sound, they ultimately don't generate the same degree of venom as the earlier five-man lineup. But Our Pleasure is far from a victim of the Sophomore Slump; it finds the group evolving while holding on to what was best about their first LP, and they remain a singular and bracing punk rock band for people who think they're too smart for punk rock. Well worth your time and attention.
|Label:||Dine Alone Records|