Review: Self Titled - Mom
Written by Enoch Kim(@ProCreateEnoch)
Punk’s super aggressive, like that’s its thing. Born as a political movement that rejected traditional values and was often hella anarchist, aggression is arguably a key factor of punk and big reason for its existence. But honestly? Super aggressive punk gets really tiring after a while, especially when that’s how like 90% of the genre is like.
So blacksquares’s debut self-titled Mom EP was a breath of fresh air, despite its flaws. It sounds super amateur, super rough, and emotional but the emotion’s being held back, it’s unsure, and it constantly stumbles over itself. It’s in a way the opposite of punk, which is raw, energetic, and even when self depricating it’s very sure it hates itself.
But how many people do you know who are real punks? People who are so confident and loud and sure of themselves? They’re like perfect people; I wanna be a punk! But I’m not, most people I know aren’t. We’re nervous beings, always second-guessing ourselves and that’s why Mom’s style is so resonant to me.
Blacksquares voice is always wavering. She puts on a fake “valley girl” voice to unconvincingly assure herself that things are going great. Stumbles happen, she goes off rhythm, her statements slowly turn into questions like a student who’s not confident in their answer. The lyrics are desperate to stay positive despite circumstances and the singer’s own flawed character. Even when suddenly lapsing into ranting blacksquares is holding back her anger, and constantly apologizing for her outburst. It’s punk grounded in reality, knowing all too well of its consequences if it speaks out.
Supporting the vocals is amateur, cheap-sounding midi rock production. Everything from the drums to the guitar to the bouncy synths are all straight out of the pretty crappy default MIDI soundfont. Blacksquares uses this to her advantage, keeping the music bouncy and cheerful, supporting her lyrics and completing the record’s clashing dissonance. Upon closer listening, the production is only superficially amateur. Blacksquares didn’t half-ass the music, resulting in bouncy, catchy melodies and tight tracking, further supporting the idea of a skillful, driven punk who’s trying to hold it all back.
Unfortunately it took me a couple tries to get all this about Mom. I’m gonna lie and say this records in any way accessible or even something that’ll grow on everybody. Blacksquares’s valley girl tone can get abrasive and it takes a while for the midi rock production to be taken seriously.
But for me none of that mattered. Mom felt real in a way many punk records fail to be, understanding how stifling both the world around you and yourself can be to your emotions. Because of that it toes the line between unbearably amateurish and skillfully controlled punk.
Grade: B Listen To It