DSAS... Difficult Second Album Syndrome. That perennial sufferance and almost inexplicable phenomenon of which so many bands and artists have fallen foul of over the years. You set the standard high with your debut, create a whole ton of buzz and hype, and then have to live up to that benchmark. Mother Feather impressed me greatly with their 2016 full-length, eponymously titled debut album, as it did many others, with a whole slew of positive reviews. More interestingly was that 'Mother Feather' was a non-metal record released on renowned metal label, Metal Blade. However, Brian Slagel's gamble paid off (originally from a recommendation from celebrity chef Chris Santos). It seemed the metal community, in general, loved and fully embraced Mother Feather and all their glittery, histrionic shenanigans, with their set of self-styled pop cock rock tunes. And two years later, their sophomore full length release is here, with 'Constellation Baby'...
So, then, Difficult Second Album Syndrome? It doesn't show. Ann Courtney and her glammed-up clan have delivered another corker. A sideways step from 'Mother Feather', in one sense, but that's no bad thing, what with said debut being rather awesome. I described said record back in 2016 as, "each track effuses so much effervescence, energy, euphoria, emotion and edginess... this is pure sonic ecstasy!" The same can be generally said once again, so it's all about pop cock rock bliss all over again.
Courtney has said that she "went to some very dark and lonely places" when starting to compose for the new album. There are glimpses of melancholy and a few dark twists here and there, but it's all about fun, once again. That's the overriding feeling I garner from all this. If the genesis of songs did indeed start life as being born from the dark recesses of Courtney's psyche, then they evidently transcended their desolate origins to be transformed into a glorious and mutual rock catharsis amongst her musical comrades.
Opening with a track called 'Red Hot Metal', I can't help but wonder whether this is a cheeky nod of gratitude for the faith Slagel placed in the band by giving them a break. After all, it is the heaviest number amongst the ten new cuts on offer. The title track, at least for the first few bars, sounds ever so reminiscent of Emilie Autumn's vocal melodies on 'Swallow', another lady who has a penchant for the theatrical, of course. 'Snakebite' has a kind of psychobilly vibe about it. 'ICU' is a kind of late-90s/early-00s post-grunge feel to it. Then there are numbers such as 'Totally Awesome' and 'Shake Your Magic 8 Ball' which see Mother Feather hit their theatrically quirky stride.
Overall, though, it is all unmistakably Mother Feather. While this second outing could be construed as a more polished, refined effort (and, certainly, the production sounds better), I think that would be missing the point. The true essence of this Courtney and co. is their untamed, raw energy that just so happens to have been captured and exercised within some astutely composed tunes that've been very well produced and mixed. And, I have to say, this album must have the most bright, glittery and colourful cover for any release in the history of Metal Blade.
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd November 2018
1) Red Hot Metal
2) Man, I Wish You Were Here
5) Desert Island
6) Constellation Baby
7) Totally Awesome
8) Shake Your Magic 8 Ball
10) I Blow a Kiss
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"If the genesis of songs did indeed start life as being born from the dark recesses of Courtney's psyche, then they evidently transcended their desolate origins to be transformed into a glorious and mutual rock catharsis amongst her musical comrades."