In 2008, after two years of rapid success, Nashville indie garage punks Be Your Own Pet called it quits. With just two releases, their 2006 self-titled debut and its 2008 follow-up ‘Get Awkward’, to their name they had drummed up enough buzz to leap from performing in shady DIY dive bars to the cover of major music magazines. But, as formidable frontwoman Jemina Pearl told NME last year, all that success wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. At just 16 and 17, they took on the daunting task of world tours and press scrutiny, with Pearl recalling being “overly sexualized often or demeaned” just for being a woman on stage. That perfect storm of sexism, naivety and exhaustion eventually stopped BYOP right in their tracks.
- READ MORE: Be Your Own Pet on reunion: “If Jack White offers for you to open for him, you don’t say no to that”
Then around 2021, more than a decade later, a shift happened. Thanks to hard conversations, rounds of apologies, and the realisation that much of the issues that drove them apart could be chalked up to being young, the foursome became friends again. They also started to play together again, their interest piqued by the other bands they came up with who were also resurrecting thanks to the influx of indie sleaze nostalgia. By the time their friend Jack White asked them to join him on the road, they were “ready to be back on stage”.
Now, after a successful run of shows supporting White and a SXSW return that proved their punk prowess is still intact, the band are back with ‘Mommy’, more evidence that even after a decade the angst and ferocity that put them on the map never left.
‘Mommy’ launches off with swift drumming, layers of distorted guitars and Pearl’s raspy voice rattling out lyrics on humiliation, fantasies and having your face pushed in the dirt. That igniting track, ‘Worship The Whip’ foreshadows the pace and tempo of what’s to come, with ‘Goodtime’ starting immediately after, as Pearl oscillates from singing to talking, bringing up a litany of reasons she finds it rough to be a parent and a punk as she wails “I don’t want to be left behind / When everyone else is having a good time” over shrieking guitars and the deep boom of a bass drum.
The best moments of the album come when the band get candid about their hardest experiences, all the while leaning into the driving, raw rock sound they were known for. In ‘Bad Mood Rising’, Pearl sings about taking her meds, not wanting to be fucked with and not feeling like herself, her voice gritty with exhaustion and despair as guitars build the track up towards a spiralling end. In ‘Hand Grenade’, Pearl sings with a snarl, musing “I’m not your victim, I’m my own person/ I’m not some casualty, I set myself free,” with a ferocity that seems to not only be in defence of herself now, but the teen Jeminia who didn’t have the wisdom or chance to speak up this loudly in the past.
“By telling our stories and sharing our truth, we can gain power back from a situation where we felt powerless,” Pearl said in a statement on ‘Mommy’ right before explaining who she is now, the version of herself that’s leading the band boldly, and shamelessly into their second chance. “Mommy is the bitch in charge, the one in control. It’s a reclamation of myself.”
- Release date: August 25
- Record label: Third Man Records