In some ways Mommy and Daddy are the natural result of several recent trends getting together, probably as a drunken hook-up in a dirty club. Start with the lingering love (more eros than familia) for stripped-down two-person acts (see the Moaners, Black Keys, and, most prominently, the White Stripes) and throw in the punkier remnants of electroclash, and you start to get to what Mommy and Daddy do. Married members and cat-parents Vivan Sarratt and Edmond Hallas each play bass and run electronic boxes, but they’re more NYC-hip and less aggressive insanity than Death from Above 1979.
On the Fighting Style Killer Panda EP — the duo’s first US release following a couple of UK 7-inches and an full-length — Mommy and Daddy start out with a dirty, fuzzy sound while Sarratt sings about “sonic tricks” and, I don’t know, some other stuff. Then they throw in the requisit handclaps and electronic horn line to make sure the song fits just right into their scene. It should be troubling, but it works well. It’s not quite enough to get you dancing or even jumping, but it holds you.
Hallas takes over the vocals for “Street Cleaner Demeanor” and — even more so than that music does — Hallas’s voice reveals debts to both Johnny Lydon and the B-52’s Fred Schneider. With its hyperactive beats and screaming, the song’s perfect for indie-rock raving (that’s where you take drugs but don’t dance). To make the song truly DIY, just sing the word “sodomy” over and over on the chorus.
“The Now” is essentially a song about yelling “now”.
Described, the album sounds silly, and it is. The lyrics are mostly senseless and the music’s not inventive, but the group has made two aesthetic decisions that allow them to pull it off. First, they’ve dropped much of the ironic posturing that holds down enough electroclash and synthpop acts. Mommy and Daddy are up front and determined to stay there. Certainly, they’re hipsters coming out of a hipster scene, but when they rock this much, that becomes irrelevant. Second, the duo have kept only the darkest, most rawkish sounds of their milieu, choosing to blast and attack rather than craft and preen.
It’s not quite enough, though. For throwing 18 minutes of rock on your stereo just before you head downtown, Fighting Style Killer Panda serves nicely. For music that you’ll want to make a part of your home and get to know better, well, it’s time you moved out and got a place of your own — Mommy and Daddy have totally locked you out.