After being out-of-print and unavailable online for nearly three decades, the Mommyheads’ innovative, 1992 sophomore release, Coming Into Beauty, has been remastered for physical and digital formats. A truly experimental work, the album sees the band fusing rich melodies with avant-garde techniques, making for a one-of-a-kind listening experience. The remastered edition of Coming Into Beauty will be available digitally on February 12, 2021.
Justy shy of their 20s, the Mommyheads were finding studio time whenever and wherever they could to track their wild new compositions, largely penned by Adam Elk and then-bassist Matt Patrick. By the time the material had coalesced into a full-length album, it had become a gently kaleidoscopic patchwork, covering uncharted indie-pop territory. The album defies cohesion and plays more like an early Frank Zappa record in its playful photo-book sprawl.
Album opener “Wedding Day” melds breezy, gorgeous fingerpicking with harmonies both angular and angelic at once, all whilst Elk belts a surrealistic semi-story about the crushing weight of marriage and boyish passion. “I Started Breathing” is arguably the album’s focal point. The tune gently strides along the spare ukulele and rattling percussion, boasting chord changes that have more in common with Brazilian pop and bossanova records than anything indie. Pairing the druggy, melancholy Brooklynite romance (“and your friends they went to see the Dead / and they left you at home to work instead”) with frayed Bouzouki-laden choruses, the song is an understated achievement of pop invention. It’s both authentically strange and heartbreakingly sweet; unsettling and lulling.
This duality is what defines Coming Into Beauty. The album basks in left-field terrain with experiments like “Blink Like a Camera,” “Hepsaba’s Compass,” as well as herky-jerky romps like “Swimming” and “I’m Not Real,” not to mention the dark humor whimsy of Michael Holt’s instrumental “Nino Wrote a Tune.” And yet, these offerings are complimented by the myriad warmer, heartfelt numbers: “Like a Brick” is practically a campfire song with the band gathered around a single room mic, harmonizing in quaint folk fashion.
Coming Into Beauty remains the most potent document of the Mommyheads at their most unhinged and daring. Fans of both experimental records and melodically-rich pop alike will find the album’s enigmatic nature fascinating and infinitely rewarding.
Photo Credit: Christina Lane