Sometimes you get up off the couch and go into the other room, and immediately upon entering that room, you can’t remember why you even got up in the first place. I had a similar moment when I threw on this album for the first time. I immediately forgot what I had put on. Thirty seconds into “All Your Life,” I had to double check to see if I had put on Angel Olsen’s album from last year, Big Time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not Angel Olsen, but Nicole Canaan’s debut album, My Own Two Hands (M.O.T.H. for all the cool kids).
And that phenomenon, getting up and forgetting what you got up to do, is really what this whole album is. It wreaks havoc on your short term memory. The track changes, and I completely forget what I’m listening to. Sometimes I think it’s Angel Olsen, other times it’s Sharon Van Etten, and other times it dips into a Soccer Mommy vibe. It doesn't help that all three of those artists also released albums in 2022.
And then my personal favorite, on the track “Deer,” Nicole appears to be doing her best impersonation of Thom Yorke moaning, which some people don’t like, but Radiohead fans have been raving about it for nearly three decades so there’s clearly some value to it. (For the record, I’m quite impartial when it comes to Radiohead, and would need to listen to them significantly more than I have to have an opinion either way.)
I had heard Nicole's single “Party Person” prior to the release of the album, but the song when added to the context of the rest of the album makes me have a greater appreciation of what she was doing with it. On its own, it's a great song, but in the context of the album it becomes a cornerstone to build off of, something that has become less common in the modern landscape of the music industry.
There’s a quality to M.O.T.H. that makes it seem like you’re listening to it in a much larger space like a movie theater (which ironically there’s a song titled “Movie Theater” on the album). I think an effective use of Nicole’s hypnotic voice and warm synths lend to this effect by creating a dramatic mood. Or maybe it’s that this album is made to be played in a space as large as a theater, and my JBL speaker or AirPods aren’t sufficient to do it justice. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t sound good on either of those, but that it deserves more. It deserves the bigger space and the highest quality.