Mom Jeans have often been a difficult band to get into, for no other reason than their brand of emo has rarely had the elevating factor to let them pop out. That’s far from an issue exclusive to them—it’s rather rampant in the DIY scene as whole but that’s another discussion entirely—but they’re one of the bands for whom the swell behind them is more prominent, and yet they’ve not entirely been able to ride it. Their praises are being sung from outside of the scene echo chamber, which is a rarity in itself, and implies something more than just competence that’s been their most regular calling card. And to an extent, when the primary pull quote for Sweet Tooth has them openly embracing the home-run hook-craft of blink-182 or Green Day, it feels as though Mom Jeans themselves are aware of that. It can’t be pure coincidence that this is, by a country mile, their most refined and refreshingly catchy work to date. It really is just a case of zeroing in on what matters the most too; Something Sweet and Hippo In The Water might be a bit slight in structure, but the choruses drill in with zero resistance and that’s something that Mom Jeans get supremely right across the board. Get to tracks like Luv L8r and Tie Dye Acid Trip, and the richness drawn from classic pop-punk is such an elevating factor to get everything working so well. Admittedly there’s a slight lull towards the middle with Sugar Rush and Graduating Life that aren’t quite as strong (and in the latter’s case, the prominent acoustics combined with the timbre of Eric Butler’s voice makes it a tad too saccharine), but it’s not exactly derailing. Sweet Tooth moves at an impressively sharp clip, feeding into the energy and exuberance that Mom Jeans are so good at embodying here.
That’s worth holding onto as well, because it’s arguably the killer app in Mom Jeans’ arsenal when it comes to letting Sweet Tooth click so succinctly. Generally, they’ve not changed that much about themselves sonically; this still comfortably resides in the DIY emo space in a tone that’s more unvarnished and welcome of slightly scruffier presentation, which has typically been the point of contention surrounding Mom Jeans and a perceived lack of uniqueness that’s held them back. Sweet Tooth feels like the easiest workaround though, by simply punching up the tempos and production tightness to wind up a whole lot sharper as a result. They’ll occasionally strike real gold with the electrified melody that sears through Anime Theme Song or the most unassuming earworm going in Teeth, but Sweet Tooth has a much higher floor on the whole to rest on compared to effectively the rest of Mom Jeans’ catalogue. The writing, on the other hand, can be a bit harder to spruce up in the same way when, again, it’s some rather standard emo fare that remains rather unwavering, but that’s also where the laser-focused hooks will do the most work. The art of a good wallow is made a lot easier to accomplish when the choruses rip like they do on Circus Clown and Ten Minutes, where even Butler’s more—for lack of a better term—stereotypical emo tone is indebted to the classic 2000s sound in the most enjoyable way. It’s just great to see an album like this being made regardless of relativistic shortcomings, as a fat-free nostalgia trip that’s not pushing the genre forward by a single iota, but gives Mom Jeans the biggest boost of their career. It really is fun to stick on an album like this and get that rush again, something that Mom Jeans can accomplish very well and very frequently.
For fans of: blink-182, Modern Baseball, The Front Bottoms
‘Sweet Tooth’ by Mom Jeans is released on 25th February on Pure Noise Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall