ALBUM REVIEW: MOTHERMARY, I Am Your God
UPDATE: The production on this album was done by member Elyse & a co-producer named Chris McLaughlin, so disregard any mention of Johnny Jewel as the producer. Thank you :)
MOTHERMARY is a duo coming off the Italians Do It Better label that equally follows in the lineage of Madonna and Glass Candy. Producer and label head of IDIB Johnny Jewel smartly added groups like Club Intl, Orion, Double Mixte and Pink Gloves to their label in 2020 with the release of the After Dark 3 compilation. For those of you who are unaware, IDIB is a legendary Italo disco label that is partially responsible for bringing the ‘80s aesthetic of Drive into the 21st century. Bands like Chromatics with their cinematic tracks “Tick of the Clock” and “The Page” sparked an unanticipated revival, bringing analog sound into the digital era. The sound was definitely refined and almost pigeonholed for the better half of the aughts until After Dark 3. Jewel is very hands-on with his artists, and it’s impressive to see him suit the needs of a R&B/pop duo like MOTHERMARY. The music presented is punchier and like, dubstepier than anything I’ve ever heard Jewel produce, starting with the opening stunners “Catch Fire” and the sultry “Wearing Me Thin”.
Beyond just the incredible production, the story of this group is very interesting as well. Identical twin sisters Elyse and Larena grew up in a repressive religious household, and have used music and art as a rebellion against that ever since. By being the feminine “mothers” of the God they were forced to worship, they turn Christ into a gimp. From their website: “The sound Elyse and Larena have created is indeed extremely specific. The contrast of light and dark — of exquisite, ethereal vocals and dark, even gritty instrumentation — is elusive and engrossing, a unique juxtaposition that’s entirely in keeping with the sensibility of sisters who have always refused to be pinned down or defined.” When I first heard about them, it was through their single “Resurrection”, a standout on After Dark 3. It was art pop, but electrified and dark all at the same. The themes of sex, death and sacrilege from this cut bleed into everything else here, from their Madonna cover of “Like A Prayer” to the nocturnal bop “Pray”. We get small little interludes like “Know The Truth” and “Devils” that continue to drive the point home without being overly interruptive.
Overall, this is a very bold and most importantly, danceable, opening statement from a brand new talent. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect after all these new artists were introduced to the roster. But now, with Glume, MOTHERMARY and others coming through with music that honors the ethos of IDIB, I am confident that this will continue to be one of my favorite labels. There’s even range on this album, it’s not all just club banger after club banger. The closer “I Am Your God” slows the synths down and really puts an emphasis on the sister’s heavenly dueling vocals, reminiscent of something from Pond from the band Porches. It’s detailed, sparkling and full of character in the vocal performances, and Johnny Jewel sounds like he’s having fun being a producer for the first time since his contributions to Twin Peaks: The Return.