Punk rock has always been rooted in anger, or at least petulance, but sounding convincingly angry at length has often been the Achilles' heel of bands whose rage just becomes cartoony after a spell. This is not a problem that troubles Drew Thomson; as the frontman with London, Ontario-based punks Single Mothers, Thomson doesn't sing so much as he rants, letting loose with a red-throated spray of invective as he goes off like a smart, bitter guy who has just finished his fifth cup of coffee and is about to tell anyone within earshot just how he feels. On Negative Qualities, Single Mothers' first full-length album (well, if you think 26 minutes is full-length), Thomson is revealed as a stellar frontman and lyricist, tossing out vivid images and lucid, pissed-off notions left and right, all punctuated with plenty of quotable one-liners, like "I need God about as much as She needs me," "If this is living the dream, just kill me," "This ain't a confession, it's a warning," and "At least I don't pretend my whole life's held together by bookends." Thomson's songs might be the hook that draws you into Negative Qualities, but it's his bandmates who will bring you back -- like an updated and hardcore-infused version of the New Bomb Turks, Single Mothers play full-on punk that's not afraid to acknowledge the sound of its forebears (and occasionally slow the tempo from very fast to just fast), and Michael Peterson's fierce but wiry guitar work, Evan Redsky's thick, rumbling basslines, and Brandon Jagersky's precise, femur-snapping drumming is, like Thomson's lyrics, whip-smart and imaginative without ever coming off as pretentious. Righteous anger, razor-sharp songs, and killer music is a trifecta few punk bands can claim on their first album, but Single Mothers hit the jackpot on Negative Qualities, and if this doesn't turn out to be the best punk debut of 2014, then the music has been having a truly great year. Get in touch with your inner anger and betrayal and give this a spin.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming