There are fewer words more overused in music writing than "eclectic" and "whimsical." It's the bane of a music writer's career, to find new ways to say the same things over and over again.
But alas, you come across a record as heterogeneous as Mother Mother's latest, The Sticks (due out Sept. 18) and only two words come to mind...and you know what they are.
The Sticks, Mother Mother's fourth album and second in 18 months, finds the band building on the refined, polished songcraft of 2011's Eureka while harking back to their more playful beginnings.
It also couldn't come at a better time: with the success of Eureka still fresh in people's minds, and an evening slot at this weekend's LIVE at Squamish, The Sticks will likely cement old fans for the long haul and convert the non-believers.
"I felt like we did what we could with it (Eureka) and instead of stopping and going into mysterious, long-winded hiatus, it felt proper just to have no lull, just to ride the momentum of that record with another record," says vocalist/guitarist Ryan Guldemond.
Eureka, while a creative breakthrough for the band and great entry point for newcomers, abandoned much of the eclecticism (there's that word again!) of their previous work. The plan this time was for all the members — Guldemond, his sister/keyboardist/vocalist Molly, vocalist/keyboardists Jasmin Parkin, drummer Ali Siadat and bassist Jeremy Page — to abandon cohesiveness altogether and see where the writing process would take them.
"(It's about) not getting in the way of the song or what the creative spark is asking," Guldemond says. "That's the way to do it. You don't want to pre-ordain your outcome. You just want to be so open to the transmittance of creativity that when it happens, you can just follow it, not even take ownership, just chase it around and see where it goes."
The Sticks is a pop album that defies convention, swollen with vocal harmonies bordering on demented and clever arrangements. It's a culmination of everything they've done until this point, harking back to their earlier, more whimsical songwriting approach while building on the polished songcraft of Eureka.
"Music and art are great realms where you can be feral and try everything and not be scared, not be boxed in by conventions and rules," Guldemond says.
"It's a little surprising when people are shocked or taken aback by our band's thirst to experiment. (People) ask, 'Why are you so eclectic?' Well, music is a vast language that you can craft a myriad of different sentiments, paint a million pictures, evoke a million different feelings and colours. So it's like, duh, why would you just say the same thing over and over again?"
Their rising popularity has put them at the vanguard of Vancouver independent music, and while they have little of the hipster cache of Japandroids, Black Mountain or any other local act to receive a nod from Pitchfork, they are nonetheless helping to define the voice of their city.
None of this is intentional, of course. Guldemond is focused solely on making music. Everything else is extraneous.
"We don't feel like we're the ambassadors of any region, or the spokesperson for anybody. If that's happening, that's perfectly lovely. There are no negatives to draw from our music unifying something, or a group of people, or a place on the earth. I can only see good things in that, but it's not something that we try and foster."