Three singles down and Mother, Kubb’s debut album, is upon us. Slickly produced by Youth, it is radio friendly almost to a fault. Wrapping edgy lyrics with the kind of songwriting that leaves one humming the tunes after just one listen, Mother doesn’t count originality amongst its obvious attributes but offers some strong moments.
The first single, Somebody Else, is a laid back, jazz-tinged affair that mid-way through turns into a curious mix of Muse without the electronic histrionics and Starsailor with better arrangements. Front man Harry Collier, whose brooding mugshot adorns the record cover, is able to turn his voice from lush swooning to mad screaming while all the time remaining resolutely in tune.
Wicked Soul, with its insistent piano-led rhythm, introduces Collier as “the weirdo in your bedroom”, while I Don’t Mind plays like an anonymous sexual confessional. “Scenes of you and me in bed, your legs wrapped around my head, you don’t even want to know my name,” sings his breathy voice. Is Collier the sort of boy young ladies would want their mothers to meet? Maybe not.
It’s not all plain sailing. The record leans into ambient effects rather too often. Closer Burn Again, full of echo-laden piano and sparkly ambience, is the least memorable track on the record, even after several listens, though Bitch runs it a close second, while the short Sun runs out of ideas half way through, relying on Collier to howl an extended closing note to just push it over three minutes. Chemical, full of gospel backing vocals and an interminable conclusion, features the startling lines: “Your love is like my sister” and “Your love is like my father.” Really, at times one ought to worry about this boy.
Without You should credit U2 with at least some of the songwriting. Not only is the title half of the Irish megastars’ With Or Without You but the chorus is near-identical. Elsewhere, the plodding, faux dramatic strings and epic scale of Grow try to raise a decidedly average song to another level and end up sounding simply overblown.
But with songwriting of the quality evidenced on Remain, Somebody Else and especially Wicked Soul, combined with Collier’s voice and able musicians, Kubb should be capable of making the leap up to longevity and national consciousness. Mother won’t necessarily achieve what they’re capable of, but given space to grow and a less ambient-inclined producer, Collier’s curious band are worth watching.