Jun 12, 2024

Be Your Own Pet ‘Mommy’ Review: Rock ‘n’ Roll Posturing

The album fails to recapture the lightning in a bottle that made the band’s initial run so magnetic.

Fifteen years and a few largely forgotten side projects after the band’s disbandment in 2008, Be Your Own Pet have regrouped for Mommy. The album opens with “Worship the Whip,” an ode to BDSM in which lead singer Jemina Pearl Abegg sneers, “Count your lashes and beg for more…Pray at the altar in your temple of pain,” over a wiry guitar line. The track boasts the same let’s-rock attitude that the Nashville garage-punk quartet’s previous releases did, even if the throwback vibes fall on the dusty side.

Lack of artistic development can be forgiven for a band like Be Your Own Pet that trades in straightforward pop-punk. But at times, they seem to be running on fumes. “Pleasure Seeker,” for one, shoots its wad with a super gritty riff on a song that could otherwise be characterized as a nonentity. The hook—“We’re pleasure seekers/Baby, we don’t care”—is bombastic, rife with superficial verve but is easy to forget by the time the next track rolls around.

Elsewhere, “Hand Grenade” sounds like a tired rehash of the edgier tendencies of 2000s indie music. Its themes of overcoming trauma are well-intentioned but ring hollow in their lack of emotional specificity. It’s a problem that pops up throughout this otherwise snappy album: For all its hopped-up rock ‘n’ roll posturing, Mommy often sounds generic. Even Abegg’s wild yelps feel constrained by the rote songwriting. If 2008’s Get Awkward already had an air of calculation about it, this album seems designed to trigger millennial nostalgia and little else.

The guitar-vocal duet on “Big Trouble” chorus is a rare flash of inspiration in Mommy’s back half, and “Goodtime!” is an especially, well, good time, lamenting adult responsibilities. Abegg’s spoken-word whine, which recalls that of Mike Muir on Suicidal Tendencies’s “Institutionalized,” is one of the album’s most believable moments, as well as one of its funniest: “No one ever calls me/Is everyone hanging out without me?/What the fuck?”

Nostalgia is big business these days, so perhaps there’s not much incentive for Be Your Own Pet to push their sound forward. The scuzzy guitars, driving rhythms, and yelled vocals are all here, but Mommy fails to recapture the lightning in a bottle that made their initial run so magnetic.

Fred Barrett is a film and music writer with a love for noise rock and arthouse cinema. His writing has also appeared in In Review Online and The Big Ship.

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