21 May 2020

Mother Island – Motel Rooms

After reviewing Black Rainbows’ Cosmic Ritual Supertrip this is my second time in a week reviewing an Italian psychedelic rock band.  However, despite some similarities, the two couldn’t be more different. Mother Island are rooted in the surrealism of the 1960s with influences from bands such as The Beatles and The Doors. Their music is simply captivating and third album Motel Rooms is no exception.

There’s such a relaxing and beautiful quality within Mother Island’s music. This is immediately apparent in opener Till the Morning Comes with that soft 60’s surfer guitar lulling the listener into a form of inner peace. Singer Anita Formilan’s voice is just gorgeous and switches with ease between low and high notes. She definitely has crafted her own quality yet I’m reminded of the delicacy and edge of Blues Pills’ Elin Larsson whilst listening.

Single Eyes of Shadow is more upbeat, evoking images of beaches with gentle crystal blue waves. The low vocals perfectly drift across the verses and rise in the choruses to the backdrop of a guitar tone and lick that is reminiscent of Hank Marvin’s noodling in The Shadows. There’s a balance of whimsicality and passion in the guitar solo that layers the rhythmic bass line beautifully.

That surfer style guitar fully flourishes within And We’re Shining as Formilan’s voice soars once more in the uplifting choruses. The guitar solo is clean and groovy yet the catchy lick in the choruses is the stand out melody. Summer Glow immediately showcases a softer dimension before developing into an interesting riff that has a distinct rockabilly edge. It actually immediately reminds of Hollywood Babylon by The Misfits. Somehow Mother Island manage to exude the attitude of punk whilst retaining their delicacy. It’s a refreshing shift and would easily be the perfect song to strut along the streets to decorated in a black wide rim hat and shades.

We All Seem to Fall to Pieces Alone is a lonesome ballad, incorporating brass instruments to demonstrate their musical diversity. And it certainly pays off. The song could be the soundtrack to the funeral of any Italian big shot mafia member or a waltz with a lover across cobblestone streets. Whatever mood you’re feeling at the time, you’re guaranteed to conceptualise your own inner images to Mother Island.

The staccato bassline of Demons provides the beating heart of the verses. The guitar solo is really fantastic here and is so easy to become absorbed into. Song for a Healer opens with prolonged chords and tribal like drums before proceeding into a gentle melody that is perfect to sway to. The guitar solo is emotive and bluesy and carries the inner beauty of the track to another level.

Santa Cruz ups the tempo again whilst colouring in thoughts of cruising in an open top Cadillac. Compared to song titles like Summer Blossom, Dead Rat instantly connotes a grungy dirtier vibe. The fuzz overload on the guitar possesses the same kind of 70s swagger that The Stooges perfected. Although there is such fragility in Mother Island’s songs, its revitalising to sense and absorb that bad ass attitude occasionally creeping into their work.

Returning to that intricate and graceful tone, the prolonged chords and gentle guitar notes in Lustful Lovers allows Formilan’s voice to truly blossom. The song phases out until the beat of the drums is isolated, a thoughtful way to conclude the journey of the album.

Motel Rooms is a room that I want to stay in. Some songs do seem to merge into one yet the album is still exceptionally beautiful. Now more than ever we need to unwind and find our inner solace and Motel Rooms allows for that experience to unfold.

Highlights: Eyes of Shadow, Summer Blossom, We All Seem to Fall to Pieces Alone 

Mother Island are a part of Go Down Records.

You can find the band on Facebook and Instagram.