Bob Sweeney


the glorious post-hardcore of moor jewelry’s ‘true opera’

April 22, 2020
71 Picks

“At what point do we stand up?”


Moor Mother’s music has always had a punk edge, but her latest collab with producer Mental Jewelry goes all in, delivering an old school post-hardcore album. The hypnotic percussion, melodic bass, and frenetic noisy guitar work on True Opera all evoke the scene’s early ’90s heyday before it devolved into an increasingly problematic series of Thursday clones. Beneath Moor Mother’s abstract lyrics there lurks a rhythm section to rival Quicksand. While her poetry is always on point, Moor Mother’s vocal delivery sounds the most focused and impassioned that it ever has on record. Particularly on standouts like “Look Alive” and “Eugenics.”

Rising to a fever-pitch, Moor Mother’s fractured proclamations take aim at systemic failures and systemic cruelty. “The system is make-believe/ the government is make-believe” she intones on the noisy “Judgement.” Where musically her production is usually far-forward looking, by going back to punk roots, she roots her often abstract and prophetic lyrics in an emotional grounding that gives them immediacy. Where she can some times be aggressively heady, throughout True Opera Moor Mother’s lyrics are visceral. Even the most abstract songs are taut and urgent.

The record builds to a suite of straight-up punk rock songs that give it a sense of being propelled forward. True Opera is a record with not just depth and speed, but slope. Each track adds to the mounting tension, before crashing through a window and landing out the other side with the closing (comparatively) contemplative “Boris Godunov” and “Shadow.” The twin examinations of trauma and survival transform the album’s earlier rage into determination and strength. It brings home that this is less an album condemning oppressive systems than an album celebrating surviving those systems. More than ever, now is the time to celebrate our continued survival. Capping a run that’s seen Moor Mother release some of the most forward-facing music out there, Mental Jewelry finds her gloriously in the moment.

Download True Opera via Bandcamp, and keep up with Moor Mother on Twitter @moormother