“Let’s hope they don’t notice how little sense it makes before they release it,” said Mothertongue drummer John Simm of their debut LP on signing to Bad Elephant.
It was a fair point. Much of Unsongs makes no sense at all. Single songs span several different subgenres, and stated influences include imaginary numbers, science fiction and dinosaurs. All of which is unsurprising, perhaps, for a “random collection of musicians” with a collective propensity for hopping from gypsy cabaret to ska to indie prog to Sensational Alex Harvey Band-esque madness. A lot is crammed in, weaved into tight proggy timings that slickly change by the minute. The Fog plays a bit like a pop/prog aficionado OD’ing on ProPlus. Nautilus grows from smooth avant-jazziness to stompy alt-rock, then robust oompah tones to finish, and Waxwing starts off punk-pop, then slides into a blend of Latin rhythm, minimal rock guitar and brass. All of which could sound awful in the hands of less competent musicians, but Mothertongue somehow maintain a melodic grasp. They could benefit from stripping back an element or two, but for ears that relish glorious chaos, look no further than Unsongs.