“Single Mothers broke up in 2009 - and have been playing shows ever since,” reads the blurb on the Canadian quartet's Facebook page, a wonderfully succinct way of conveying the band's chaotic nature.
Such tensions and conflicts might make life in Single Mothers painfully unstable, but damn, they make for one hell of a great record. Negative Qualities might just be the best punk rock album of 2014, a vicious, screaming, kicking, ‘fuck you’ of a record which never relents, never backs down from its scorched earth attack.
Frontman Drew Thomson has a wonderful punk rock snarl, and a gift for distilling a lifetime of disappointment, frustration, hatred and spite into acerbic, stinging lyrics designed to confront and challenge himself as much as any external targets. “I’m a hypocrite and I’m okay with it,” he spits on the student-baiting Marbles. “And I’m so self-aware that it’s crippling. At least I don’t pretend my whole life is held together by bookends.” Around him, guitarist Mike Peterson, bassist Evan Redsky and drummer Brandon Jagersky whip up a racket that threatens to breakdown into white noise at any given moment – all high tensile bass, splintering shards of atonal guitar and whaling Chuck Biscuits drums – making Negative Qualities a splendidly discomforting listening experience.
The idea of a smart, bitter small town fuck-up trying to take down every c**t in his path isn’t an entirely novel conceit in punk rock, but even for those raised on Black Flag, Fucked Up or Gallows Thomson’s venom and bile really is quite something to behold, whether he’s beating himself up or taking on the world one superior, smug prick at a time. “I need God about as much as she needs me,” he muses on Patricide, before concluding, on Blood Pressure, “Fuck it, I am who I am… and that’s not just gonna change.” We wouldn’t want him any other way.
Negative Qualities is out now on XL imprint Hot Charity.