For longstanding Mom Jeans fans, new release Sweet Tooth is a long-awaited and much-hyped project from the Berkeley band and, as seems to rarely happen, it delivers.
Mom Jeans burst onto the emo-pop-punk scene with 2016’s Best Buds, an instant cult classic that arrived just in time to fill the void that emerged when Modern Baseball stopped releasing new music.
While certainly borrowing from the angsty lyrical tendencies of MoBo and the vocal style of bands like The Front Bottoms and Blink-182, Mom Jeans set themselves apart by inhabiting the sweet spot between emotionality and humour, imbuing their music with equal parts heartfelt and tongue-in-cheek-absurd lines and titles.
With Best Buds and follow-up Puppy Love having both been fairly well-received, stakes were high for Mom Jeans’ sophomore album.
Impressively, Sweet Tooth retains the band’s distinctive charm and sense of fun – it sounds like Mom Jeans, but just a little bit elevated. Without seeming that they’ve started to take themselves too seriously, Mom Jeans has produced something more mature, settled and cohesive than previous releases.
The “sweet tooth” theme is sprinkled throughout the tracklist with a number of references to sugar, sweets and cavities, so you’d recognize these songs even if you were listening to the entire Mom Jeans library on shuffle.
“Something Sweet,” while one of the more forgettable songs overall, clearly introduces this theme. Things pick up with lead single “What’s Up?,” with a heavy drumline and easy, singalong-ready lyrics that are signature Mom Jeans.
The next high point is “White Trash Millionaire,” where we really see the band doing what they do best.
The song’s dizzying changes in tempo & pacing, full instrumentation and whisper-shouted backup vocals keep the listener engaged from start to finish. It reminds us that Mom Jeans knows exactly what they bring to the table, having it down to an art.
“Luv L8er” is arguably the peak of the album, placed smack dab in the middle of it. This song contains perhaps the smoothest Mom Jeans pre-chorus thus far:
And I’m still just as angry
But now I’ve got no outlets
You only understand me
If it’s in a catchy chorus
Capturing that confusing overlap of anger and residual tenderness at the end of a relationship that many of us likely know all too well, frontman Eric Butler cuts through the noise at the top of the chorus, crooning:
Do you miss me?
When you’re falling asleep on the couch again?
Do you miss me?
Does my voice still reside in your head?
While Sweet Tooth is slightly back-loaded, with the strongest tracks concentrated in the latter half, it still holds up overall as a no-skip album.
As a project, it’s well-crafted, coherent and a lot of fun to listen to. Fans will appreciate hearing the kind of music they know and love from Mom Jeans, and the band can feel proud of having put together an album that shows growth and polish without straying too far from what makes them special.