With seven songs barely totaling to an over half-hour runtime, Fostermother present themselves rather modestly on their debut album. However, the Houston duo has some varied components in their approach to stoner doom as one can trace hints of psychedelia, alternative rock, and shoegaze. These elements would suggest a great deal of complexity at work, but the release ends up being an interesting exercise of channeling variety into simplicity.
This attitude is immediately expressed through the group’s musicianship and overall dynamic. The setup is relatively basic with playing that isn’t too overtly technical, but it manages to be fairly expressive. The guitar and bass dominate the proceedings with near equal prominence, but the fuzz is persistent in a way that is more reassuring than crushing. This is reinforced by the filtered vocals, which are delivered with a pleasant restraint without getting too drowned out in the mix. It all adds up to a dreamy mood that is foreboding though lacking the urgency one would expect.
The songwriting also avoids being too elaborate but successfully conveys its eclecticism through more straightforward structures. “Lie in Wait” may be the album’s most dramatic outlier, fully flexing those alternative influences with an upbeat shuffle that reminds me of Swans’ “Celebrity Lifestyle.” Elsewhere, “Dark Sun” and “Give” present their doomy riffs with easygoing rhythms, “Blood on the Wall” aims for more climactic space rock, and “In the Shadow” makes for a splendidly hazy comedown.
Overall, Fostermother’s self-titled debut makes for a surprisingly enjoyable first impression. The writing and playing end up being more multi-faceted than the somewhat blunt layouts would have you believe, and the collage of influences is more refreshing than your standard heavy psych fare. I find myself wondering how this setup would pan out with a broader scope, but the album is a pleasant effort in itself. Fans of groups like Elephant Tree, Howling Giant, and Ruby the Hatchet are sure to get a lot out of it.
“Lie in Wait”
“In the Shadow”