This article appears in our 2017 Summer issue, Invisibility. Subscribe today!
The second album from Adult Mom, Soft Spots, is best described as happily melancholic. Like the title of its first track, this album has a sense of “Ephemeralness” and comfort. The group’s founder, Stephanie Knipe (vocals, guitar, keys), makes it easy to cozy up immediately, with lyrics (and a voice) “like socks on feet.” The album sounds sweet and soft, with powerful moments of strength and surprise. This is music for a solitary walk in the woods, for fingers gently brushing the leaves, eyes squinting in the spring sun. It’s also music for throwing open your arms and imagining being the star of your own music video.
As has always been the case with Adult Mom’s work, Knipe uses their music to contribute to a larger conversation about queer desire and visibility. Their lyrics are smart, relatable, and articulate, capturing things thought but not often said aloud. In the second track, “Full Screen,” they delightfully ask, “Do you full screen your porn?” Instead of leaving the listener to grapple with this searing question, Knipe follows it up with, “I’ll be seen,” which makes for a demanding and empowering statement about gender norms and representation from porn to rom-coms.
Soft Spots is aptly named, with songs about wounds that have possibly healed and grown stronger, but are still tender to touch. That strength comes across musically, too: Adult Mom has found more confidence in its minimalism since its 2015 debut LP, Momentary Lapse of Happily. Clearly, some healing and maturing has happened for Knipe in the last two years, both in themes of the heart and in their musical delivery. Knipe’s vocals are stronger and more central in the mixing of this album, and the band is experimenting more with melodic guitar and soft backup vocals that sometimes get interrupted by surprising, crashing drums. Impressively, the band manages to deploy these breaks as welcome intervals, rather than discordant interruptions. This record is soft, fresh, and catchy as hell. Adult Mom will carry you well from spring to summer and beyond.