To a certain Millennial and Gen Z audience, there’s something immediately comforting about the guitar tones that indie outfit Momma uses: not only does it recall the warm glow of ’90s-era alt-rock (when many of us were children), it’s designed to sedate and enrich, to provide an atmospheric element that enhances each song’s focal point. Like the muted vibrance of The Breeders’ “Cannonball” or Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979,” there is an instantly recognizable feeling of bliss echoing out from each strum.
But it’s not all so blissful on Momma’s third album, the excellent Household Name (out this Friday, July 1st). The New York band, comprised of Etta Friedman, Allegra Weingarten and Aron Kobayashi Ritch, have been fearless when channeling their ’90s-influences with a more modern, unapologetic, and glowing sound; their 2020 sophomore LP Two of Me featured a psychedelic narrative imbued into irresistible rock hooks, a refined statement that was equally playful as it was serious.
And now, with Household Name, Momma — who is also Consequence‘s July Artist of the Month — have returned with their most fully-formed effort yet, and it’s one that proves the group to be one of the most dynamic acts in indie rock. In the simplest terms, each track on Household Name is pretty undeniable: the hooks are pristine and catchy, the song’s structures refuse to waver from their form, and their attempt at crafting thoughtful, multi-layered rock songs is a resounding success. Essentially, this is an album that only takes you a few notes to get you behind the band, and once you are, it’s too euphoric to resist.
But where Momma succeeds in particular on Household Name is not just in their effortless hooks or succinct musical language, but in the overall confidence of their vision. Household Name thematically revolves around the idea of ascending to the ultimate position of “rockstar,” of making it big time. They namecheck Pavement and Smashing Pumpkins, conjure images of auditoriums and a packed touring van, and present their ambitions as something that’s not just a dream, but inevitable.
They waste no time getting to the meat of this idea, immediately confessing in the first verse of “Rip Off” that they “wanna be the next big thing,” in between “falling for whiskey shots” from industry men and sneering “I’ve got what you want, now you’re singing along to my song, a rip off.”
Weingarten and Friedman repeat the same sentiment on “Rockstar,” which functions as something of a thematic guidepost for Household Name, singing “It takes a lot to admit it/ Yeah I got what they want, I’m a real rockstar.” There is a supreme sense of confidence in their reflections about their place in the music landscape — they aren’t famous yet, but they will be, they have the magic, the “it” factor, and so forth.
Meanwhile, buried within these claims is a sense of doubt and removal that makes their slacker rock stick even more. In between songs about the quest for individual fame are meditations on feeling trapped in a relationship, of being unable to shake their habits and cyclical patterns, even if they’re actively fighting against it. “Medicine,” which follows Momma relating the fraught dynamics of a relationship to the give-and-take ecstasy of a drug, smartly opens with a steady trot, before collapsing into a driving, anthemic chorus.
“Brave,” another highlight, finds Weingarten and Friedman torn between two minds, warning “don’t ask me if I want it, you know I always do,” and then later roaring “I can take it, I’m brave” — another soaring example of their confidence and vulnerability.