The Mommyheads - Soundtrack to the World's End - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Mommyheads - Soundtrack to the World's End

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-09-07
The Mommyheads - Soundtrack to the World's End
The Mommyheads - Soundtrack to the World's End

This is a classic album of progressive pop rock.  But this one comes as a bit of tabula rasa for me. The Mommyheads were always on my radar, but I just never cashed the register with this band. I’m a self-confessed Anglophile, so I probably bought a Cure record, or maybe it was an album by The Sound.

But this is great and timeless music. I hear all the great progressive pop people: The Beatles, 10CC, The Kinks, and, with all the lovely vocals, the vastly underrated and sadly forgotten band, (my beloved) City Boy.

So, this recalls the days before internet exposure, and a newly purchased album was a spinning enigma whose pedigree was based on a few rock mags like NME, Melody Maker, Circus, Rolling Stone, or Crawdaddy. I dearly remember the needle touching down on Tull’s Aqualung, The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (whose single “The Story in Your Eyes” had made our American radio waves), and a great band like Jade Warrior, whose record Last Autumn’s Dream had somehow found its way into the racks of my local department store, the place where, before the incense addled actual record stores found their way into the low rent districts of my hometown, I bought all my albums.

Ah, to quote Mary Hopkin, “Those were the days.” 

In the beginning, there is an acoustic guitar. Singer Adam Eik’s vocals carry the deep melodies with equally interesting lyrics. He sings, “We build these big machines to fabricate what’s in our dreams, but there’s still so much we don’t know.” This is intelligent stuff. The next song, “Phantom Limb,” is simple with keyboard backing until the band kicks into the steady pulse of the song. And, come on, Hallmark Card people, have you ever bettered the line of love: “Lost inside a mirror box because you’re my phantom limb.” And again, there’s a wonderful acoustic guitar that frames the tune.

Then, to this old prog guy, things get very interesting. The lead line of “Glimpsing” is a distant cousin of Tony Banks’ melody from “Back in New York City,” from Genesis’ Lamb. Now, it is a different song, but it’s still a nod to prog rock. And the complexities continue: “Antidote for the Ascent of Humanity” (which has a great title!) oozes of Gentle Giant’s more serene moments. And the chorus is lyrically and melodically, well, simply beautiful.

Now, to be quite honest, the breezy “Home on the Moon” sounds a little too much like Supertramp for my blood. Don’t get me wrong: Breakfast in America is a good album, but Supertramp is sort of like Spam (the pork shoulder and ham combo); and once a year, sure, I get a ritualistic craving for the taste, only to remember why it took me that entire year to crave pretty salty pork shoulder and ham for, well, my breakfast in America. But, ultimately, what’s there not to love (in a brief admission of catchy pop music admiration) about the song, “Bloody Well Right.”

Truly, “Home” isn’t a bad song at all. It’s just that its chorus “Give a little bit to be free” just doesn’t match the lyrical cleverness of other songs, especially the before-mentioned “Antidote.”

But then, “Eye of the Canary” sounds a lot like the great (and my beloved) City Boy, a forgotten band that, like this tune, is the intersection of brilliant songwriting, superb musicianship, and heavenly lead and backing vocals. “Eye” is a great song, which, by the way, continues with an apocalyptic theme of the album.

But, thankfully, “Time Will Tell” quickly rescues hope and is (Sir) Ray Davies’ Village Green sensitive. That’s Muswell Hill high praise. There is also a Beatles vibe in many of the songs. “Crooked Picture,” “The Final Phaseout,” and “Everybody Needs a Fool” are all simply wonderful pop-rock songs that elevate the grooves of this record far above mere pop songs by other bands that are contained by the restraint of heavy gravity.

You know, I don’t believe there’s a guitar solo on this entire record. That’s odd, but pleasantly so, just like the cymbal moratorium on Peter Gabriel’s third Melt album.

Two other songs, “Thank You for the Songs” and “Three,” are simply lovely tunes that exist in a universe of their own, a universe that is much more graced with magic than our own stake of inter-galactic cosmic real estate.

The final song, “First Baby Born of Cosmic Rage” not only has a great title but also fires on all progressive pop-rock cylinders.  You know, the very first song, “Don’t Believe the Pilot;” is sort of an Eastern blues tune that claims with “comfort of hope” that “we can make it out alive.” This final tune comes full circle and has the musical muscle to tent stake that comment into tough ground.  

And that may well be the message of any great rock ‘n’ roll record. And, ultimately, Adam Eik just sings, “You don’t have to say a prayer because I know it’s you that’s praying for me.” Now, that’s a lovely (and quite profound) thing to say. So, yeah, this album rocks; it’s a harvest that is gathered; it’s great music gathered from a fisherman’s net of the past; and ultimately, it’s a bunch of songs that are grooved into vinyl vibrations that should be heard as a reminder that rock music, when left to its own devices, may well be a worthy survivor who sings the words to the world that, despite everything, even during the Soundtrack to the World’s End, indeed, we can make it out alive.

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