After a few years of releasing short EPs, Seattle punk band Mommy Long Legs finally unleashes a full-length album. Of course, with the album coming in just under 30 minutes, it’s not that separable from the EPs that came before at under 10 minutes, but it is really fun to finally let the cathartic, guttural screams and squeals of Lilly Morlock, Cory Budden, Melissa Kagerer, and Leah Miller envelop you and thrash you around a bit for more than just a few tracks.
The band self-describes as “punk rock prom queens,” which usually fits very well with their previous song subjects. In older songs like “Haunted Housewives” and “Slumber Party,” they take the conventions and clichés of their subjects and perform them with a sneer and a manic laugh as they reveal it as something twisted, like a prom queen who drops her campaign act once she’s got the crown. On this album, that punk rock prom queen has taken a look at the world around her and lets out a bloody scream at all that bullshit.
The album opens frankly in “Alien” with the refrain of “we’re all gonna’ die anyway,” as the singer tosses off other people’s concern about her otherness. Some of the best moments of a Mommy Long Legs song are when Morlock briefly takes on a character with her exaggerated vocal inflections. Here she imitates the “normals” that look at the singer as she walks down the street and say “shut your eyes, Johnny, she’s a bad seed!” The voice sounds like a John Waters caricature of suburbia and nicety who is simply horrified (but a little titillated) at those crazy girls. The song ends with Morlock growling like a rabid dog telling others to “back off.” It’s a refreshing ownership of being “weird” or aggressively unaccommodating. Why try to fit in when we’re all gonna die anyway?
The rest of the album takes that aggression and channels it into specific lanes. “Bitch Island” expresses the desire to move to the titular location and get away from everyone and everything else. “Ditched You” similarly expresses annoyance with people—in this case, a guy who won’t take a hint and leave the singer alone. Those two are early, relatable, highlights, before a few mid-album songs that run together a bit more than the album openers and closers do. “Logging Off,” the shortest track, stands out in the middle for being so short and being an explosive representation of the feeling of rage and madness you get right before, well, logging off (for that moment).
The slightly unrestrained chaos of the middle of the album moves into a slightly more polished version in the latter half, starting with a literal “scream your abortion” track (titled “Abortion”). It’s not saying anything you haven’t heard if you’re pro-choice already, but the act of titling a song “Abortion” and proclaiming loudly that “I had an abortion” amidst thrashing guitars is still subtly revolutionary even among a liberal audience.
“Bridezilla” is the most riotously fun song of the album, with Miller going full tilt into the perky bridal role, as well as a cartoonishly lecherous groom voice that pops in to declare in a growly, monstrous voice “we’re gonna have a perfect little baby”—to which the bride squeals back, almost shaking a finger in turn: “not until you motherfucking marry me!” The electric fuzz of the song, balanced with the chaotic refrains (“I’m gonna dance on your mother like an eight-legged freak,” among them) creates a perfectly exaggerated—and therefore, honest—representation of the actually twisted traditions of the super-hetero Wedding Day and Marriage.
After that burst, the album ends with its titular track and a little more hope than it began with. “Try Your Best” reminds the listener to “only listen to yourself,” not even people like parents. The bridge spells out the band’s thesis statement by yelling “death to the patriarchy.”
The album as a whole is a quick, energetic, passionate and often cheeky moment of catharsis that feels really good to dip into when you can. It’s an album by and for aliens, but as the album ends the members of Mommy Long Legs take care to remind you that if you’re an alien, that’s just who you are and you’re good. We’re all gonna’ die anyway, so screw politeness. Scream your lungs out, bitch.