San Antonio’s Soft Mothers (SM) were formed in 2016 by Luis Rocha. Since then, they’ve released a steady stream of alternative-rock flavored music full of angsty guitar energy, heavily inspired by mid/late ’90s and early 2000’s post-hardcore and grunge. Their latest offering is the quasi-full length release, Hysterical Love – an eight-song LP that has plenty in common with all of your favorite throwback acts with enough gritty, basement-show vigor to feel fresh. There’s lots to dive into here – you’ll hear hints of acts of various intensities, ranging all the way from At the Drive In through Citizen through Pedro the Lion.

Hysterical Love opens with “Leave Me;” guitar chords ring out in a dirge-like pace, soaked in lovely shimmer effects. SM leans into this crawling tempo, allowing the song to breathe as it crescendos into a roiling bridge. Here, the drums pick up with jazzy snare hits and rolls around the toms, giving the song just enough oomph to keep things feeling novel and exciting. For a guitar-driven album, you might expect a solid block of huge, distorted sound – surprisingly, you’ll find this tasteful approach nestled all throughout the album. The guitar swells and sumptuous bassline of “Straight Logic” will have you firmly in your feelings, while the light touches of harmonics on “Nothing” cut through the mix like chiming bells.

The title-track here is a clear highlight – “Hysterical Love” is an angular blast of vivacity that plays with distorted bass tones, discordant guitar riffs, and pounding drums. The quiet/loud mindset of songwriting is in full effect here, with intriguing, whammy bar dives and throat-shredding sing shouting. Another highlight comes during the five-minute journey of “I’ll Stop Breathing the Moment You Do.” Mid song, SM completely changes the tempo, shifting away from dark, sludgy meanderings into a bass-forward monster. The song culminates into an explosive outro that stands out as one of the most exciting moments on the album. There’s also the palm muted pop-punk of “Help Me Out” that somehow finds its way into more shreddy and ambient guitar theatrics (and don’t miss the blue note in the chorus!). Soft Mothers keep things interesting no matter what, and these various juxtapositions of genre, mood, and feel help to keep the album moving along smoothly.

After the refreshing acoustic ballad “Everything to Me,” SM launches into album closer “Artichoke Heart.” With one of the best rhythmic grooves on the album, the band plays with shoegaze flavors, layering wall-of-sound guitar noise and wicked drum chops over an ever-present bass thud. It’s a fitting way to close out this collection of songs, and vies for our album favorite with the aforementioned title-track.

Hysterical Love was recorded in Austin, Texas in the fall of 2023. Mastered by the legendary Will Yip (Turnstile, Title Fight , Circa Survive, mewithoutYou). You can find Hysterical Love on Bandcamp (below) or on Spotify.