Album Review – Neighbors – So Does Your Mother
Rome-based dance-rock group are back and better than ever with their first full-length debut, Neighbors. This time around, the band is joined by the likes of Ike Willis, Ghita Casadei and Maria Onori in their most ambitious body of work yet. Representing a true progression in the bands sound, Neighbors is full of ambition, cohesion and skill, though it isn’t without its flaws. Even with them, though, the band has achieved something remarkable with this album, and it will likely pay off in a big way for years to come.
Starting off the album is the offbeat, oddly-woodwinds-dominated “Mitile Milite”. The soft brass and woodwind section suddenly gives way to thundering drums and distortion-laden guitar, backed up by a piercing synthesizer that really sets the mood for what is about to come. The track is an evolving one, going from rock to funk to straight-up dance, and then back again. Following this track, we get one of the oddest tracks on the entire album, “M.D.” (Aided by the great Ike Willis, Frank Zappas touring guitarist). The song chronicles the bands journey playing a club, by way of a monologue by said clubs manager. This wacky, offbeat humor is a bit jarring on the album, but I imagine it translates beautifully to a live setting.
The band exhibits some incredible musicianship on Neighbors, particularly on tracks like “Swallow” and “Modern Seducer”. The drums, bass and guitar all play together in complex and beautiful ways, leading to a deep desire for repeat listens to pick out pieces previously missed. It’s this commitment to detail that really sets So Does Your Mother apart from the thousands of other bands in their genre today. This commitment really shines through on the album, and leads to several standout moments.
The female guest vocals present throughout the album are wonderfully cohesive moments, with melodies that range from calming to manic and energetic. With both Italian and English lyrics, the band draws on its origins and culture to add yet another evocative layer into the mix. In “Modern Seducer” in particular, the vocals range from beautiful harmonies to seductive, sultry whispers, leading to a whirlwind of emotions swirling about as fast as the tasteful backbeat provided by drummer Francesco Antonini. Speaking to Antonini’s playing, throughout the album the percussionist demonstrates master-class abilities, effortlessly filling in measures in crazy and exciting patterns and laying down grooves that are incredible in almost every track. Particularly in “Red Leaf”, Antonini knows exactly how much flair to put into a track without overpowering the mix, a skillset that is lost on many drummers.
All told, this is an album that will not only leave you satisfied, but one that will demand repeat listens in order to absorb all that it has to offer. From the unique and varied vocal stylings to the diverse, saturated guitar tones and lines, all the way down to the infectious drum and bass core, Neighbors is one not to miss in 2016.