The Mommyheads

The Mommyheads

Geffen Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Alicia St. Rose


I'm a sucker for hooks. I'll take The Beatles, Elvis Costello, XTC , Crowded House, Squeeze, etc. over most anything on any given day. I have a special place in my heart for Power Pop, Paisley Rock or what you want to call music that gets me marvelously caught up in it hooks. That's why the Mommyheads' album The Mommyheads has been spinning on my disc player for the past 2 days. And it's been out for three years! How did I miss this one?

Oh yes, this is one joyous hookfest! And I am completely taken by the splendid melodies of these deftly crafted songs. Principle songwriter and lead vocalist Adam Cohen has a voice that evokes warmth, bliss and melancholy, sometimes simultaneously. This is perfect for songs like "Jaded", the stirring ballad that opens up the album. This is a song of resignation: "I'm not jaded / I'm just sleeping with my eyes open." But the song leaves a little glimmer of hope like the sequel ending to a movie. In the second cut "I'm In Awe," indifference is replaced with admiration for a lover.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And that is what is so rich about this album. Each song seems to be invariably tied to the other. We move along with our protagonist as life plays off him and he flows with it, never against it, submitting to his circumstances but not defeated by them. In "Sad Girl" he goes to a party and finds a noble calling: "I came here with no one / And no one to find / Sad girl in the corner / Has changed my mind."

Every once in awhile we are startled by the profound wisdom in a chorus or a verse. In "Screwed" Cohen sings: "You don't need to be right or wrong / To have a point of view." The catchy "You Keep On Looking Back" is an advisory that living in the past or trying to regain past glory is futile, but this admonishment is more tangible with the lines: "And I don't care / If you dye your hair and change your name / Because when you wake up in the morning / You will still be the same."

I do have to say that I found the song "Monkey" to lack some of the shine, lyrically, that the other songs radiated.

Lest I start to intimate that this is a one-man band, let me clarify that Cohen's band mates are superior musicians: Dan Fisherman on drums, Jeff Palmer on bass and Mike Holt on keyboards. Together with Cohen on guitar, they make a rich and textured backdrop to the vocals. And their pipes aren't bad either! Check out the soaring Beatlesque bit added at the end of "Bellhop."

There are a lot of influences oozing off of this album. You can hear the Squeeze, the Split Enz, the XTC and oodles of Lennon & McCartney. But these influences are cloaked in the Mommyheads' particular sound and are simply nods to others who have traveled the melodic pop path before them.

So, if you are a sucker for a hook, or just like to wrap your mind around some intelligent and well crafted pop music, may I suggest that you look for the Mommyheads.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2000 Alicia St. Rose and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.