Their first album for Mascot Records, and their first without the rhythm section of the Figueroa brothers, it could be said this is a make or break album for the Crobot boys from Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
The singles released before the album hint at Motherbrain being a more mainstream collection than its predecessors – especially the uber-catchy Lowlife which has hints of Shinedown oozing through its pores. However come the third track ‘Drown’, it’s clear Crobot aren’t shy of bringing the heavier side of early ‘90s grunge into the mix – giveaway lyrics such as “I drank the holy water, I tried to wash away my sins” harking back to the time when Soundgarden and Alice in Chains ruled the rock landscape. Axeman Chris Bishop even takes a signature Jerry Cantrell lick and uses it to maximum effect.
‘Alpha Dawg’ hears frontman Brandan Yeagley utilising more octaves than ever before which gives the track an really cool vibe. ‘Gasoline’ has more than just it’s title in common with Audioslave – there’s Morello-esque guitar-work and Brandon’s voice veers uncannily close to god-like Cornell territory. But as I’m a huge fan of Audioslave, I really don’t give a stuff and thank the rock gods that music as good as this is still being made.
There are more references to Badmotorfinger era Soundgarden to be found in ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Blackout’ which again is no bad thing, while all the time retaining that unique Crobot feel. Some seriously moody passages make instant replays irresistible. The more up-tempo ‘After Life’ has a catchy more poppy chorus which brings a lighter edge to what would have been the B-side of the album – and still is if you order the ‘Dark Purple’ or ‘Marble Pink’ version of the record!
Motherbrain is an example of a band that has found it’s sound, perhaps played a little safe, but those that say it’s one dimensional or single paced are missing the point. New listeners will hear plenty of catchy hooks to guarantee pressing play again, while existing fans will know this is Crobot steadying the ship but with lots of influences coming to the surface that perhaps were less obvious on previous outings.
For me, it makes for a great album that continues the unique musical journey that is Crobot, long may that journey continue!