Review: Runaway Brother, ‘Mother’

Posted 3 years ago by Joel Funk

Written By: Joel Funk Edited By: Caitlin Kohn

How do I even begin to describe Runaway Brother?

There are so many singular words that come to mind, but none of them do the band any justice. To say that they’re weird wouldn’t feel right without mention of how ambitious and infectious their sound is. Imagine if Say Anything was a new band and was only now about to release their debut album. The same punk rock roots and pop mindset are present in the music of Runaway Brother, but the songs seem to have more of a sense of direction. We’re getting there, but that still doesn’t feel like a complete summary.

Runaway Brother have been writing for their debut album since they started making music. I feel like a lot of bands do this, but very few talk openly about it. Jacob Lee (vocals, guitar) has talked about the fact that there are songs on ‘Mother’ that they knew immediately had to be saved for the full length. And so to keep those precious babes safe, they would write and release new songs. I’m not sure which songs were written when, but these definitely feel like the most important Runaway Brother tracks to date.

Our first official taste of the record was “Moth.” I was so blown away by this song the first time that I heard it, I can probably account for hundreds of the SoundCloud plays of it. I had listened to Runaway Brother before, but this was something unexpected. This was explosive and weird, so vibrant and full of life. It was an undeniable first single, and is still one of my favorite songs on ‘Mother.’ This was followed up by “Hummingbird.” “Hummingbird” is a slower moving, just as vibrant track that is incredible to listen to. There are layered vocals in the second half of the song that really bring it to life before we hear Jacob start to yell. This change in vocal delivery brings around a more punch-y feel to the music that carries you through to end of the track. It’s one of those tracks that feels like one of the longest songs you’ve heard, but is actually over before you know it. 

“Catch” is another of the three singles from the record. It shares a lot of the qualities of “Moth” but feels more subdued. Where “Moth” was explosive, “Catch” feels more driven by the story in the lyrics. The track starts off with a line that is catchy and ludicrously fun to sing along to: “All my friends say I’m a catch/But I wonder if they held onto me?/Because I’ve been dropped a few times.” Lyrically, this track is reminiscent of Say Anything around the time they released their self-titled album. That’s a huge compliment, considering that it’s easily my favorite Say Anything record. There’s just something about the wit and deprecation in these lyrics that I just really, really love.

“Hold Me Down” is the most commercial sounding song on the record, and I’m not saying that negatively. There’s an undeniable charm to the song that makes it feel the most open and inviting to people that may not have heard of Runaway Brother before hearing this record. It’s got the weirdness, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s still incredibly catchy, still fun, and still Runaway Brother. I feel like this song would do very well as a single, and I hope they decide to do something with it in the future.

Earlier I said that “Moth” was our first official taste of the record, and that’s still true. However, the first song I heard from ‘Mother’ was “Faking It.” Jacob had recorded a live acoustic version of the song that was released on YouTube a little over a year ago. I loved it then, and hearing it full band is incredible. It’s driving and it’s huge. This song contains some of my favorite lyrics of all time, and I just can’t get enough of it. I can’t trust you if you don’t end up in love with the line “I’ve learned so much but I know so little” or the weird little panicky sounding piano in the background of the last 30-40 seconds of the track. This is not only my second favorite from the record, but it’s my second favorite Runaway Brother song period.

Now, for my number one. When I first heard “Reprise” I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so in love with this track, and I am still so in love with it. I sent the stream to all of my friends via Facebook Messenger of all things and begged them to listen to it. “Reprise” is just so incredible to listen to, and I can never listen to it just once. This is Runaway Brother in one song. This could be the track that brings power pop/indie pop back into the hearts and heads of kids everywhere. This could make Runaway Brother the next Motion City Soundtrack. It’s that important.

‘Mother’ comes to a close with the seven minute long epic known as “Youniverse.” Could this song have been split up into different tracks? Absolutely. But it works just as well as one song. Everything about this track brings that weirdness that I love about Runaway Brother to the forefront and it feels like such a rollercoaster to listen to. “Youniverse” feels self aware was a great way for the album to end. This is Runaway Brother, and they’re making music that they want to make. If you love it, that’s a bonus. If you don’t, you’re truly missing out. 4.5/5