Adult Mom began life as the solo project of Stephanie Knipe. In their own words the project now falls between, “the playful spectrum of solo project and collaborative band”, fleshed out by collaborators Olivia Battell, Mike Dvorscak, and Bruce Hamilton.
In their own words Adult Mom deal in, “queer-indie-bittersweet-romantic-pop-music”, which is a pretty spot on description. Their sound is one of lo-fi bedroom pop; sometimes big, bright full-band numbers in the Field Mouse or Rat Fancy mold, sometimes softer, stripped back numbers with nods to Girl Pool and Tica Douglas.
Adult Mom formed in a college dorm room in Purchase, a hamlet in the town of Harrison, in Westchester County, New York. Purchase is home to just over 5000 residents, many of them students at the State University of New York and Manhattanville College. The people of Purchase are some of the richest in America, with an average household income of over $350,000, which is a frankly bonkers amount of money and may go some way to explaining why Master Card have their headquarters there. Despite its small population some famous musical alumni did pass through Purchase, including Mitski, Moby, Regina Spektor and Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo.
Adult Mom started when Stephanie was at college in 2012. After a series of self-released demos and EPs, Adult Mom put out their first full length album, Momentary Lapse Of Happily, on Tiny Engines back in 2015. Their second album, Soft Spots, came out last month again via Tiny Engines.
Discussing the record, the band have suggested Soft Spots is an album about, “the journey of a gender-weird queer navigating through heartache, trauma and subsequent growth”. The record is certainly one that seems to deal with the inner workings of the heart, from the hopeless romanticism of Patience where Stephanie sings, “sometimes I swear you are the only thing I see” through to the pained longing of J Station’s killer line, “I’ll pretend the song you played was meant for me, and me alone”.
Opening track Ephemeralness might have a mouthful for a title, but it’s musically sublime. It starts off all easy guitars and sweet harmonies, before latterly morphing into a sun-drenched slice of lo-fi pop, as if the Beach Boys had recorded in their bedroom. Same is a stripped back acoustic number, its pay off coming in the heart-breakingly down trodden lyric, “I will apologise until I’m ill, oh I will take the blame, and you will stay the same”. While elsewhere Full Screen is a bright and upbeat slice of college-rock put through an emo-pop filter, that it was chosen as a single should surprise nobody.
It’s left to closing track, First Days Of Spring, to offer some ultimate conclusion, Stephanie contrasting her own experience with the passing of the seasons, as they sing, “it snowed a week ago on the first day of Spring, like me it was not ready for the warmth despite the all its waiting”. It’s a song that seems to appreciate the difficult in letting somebody into your life, the difficulty of getting yourself to a place where you can accept the love of another. As the song draws to a close over gorgeously played, gentle guitars, Stephanie concludes, “I wish I was thawed, I’ll give you all of me but right now it isn’t much.” If life is a journey, this is a track and an album that admits we’re not always ready to take the next step along the road, and maybe sometimes that’s okay.
Frankly our only criticism of Soft Spots is that it isn’t long enough, but is that really a reason not to listen to something? We’ll let you decide that for yourselves.
Soft Spots is out now via Tiny Engines. Click HERE for more information on Adult Mom.