Motherhood seems to have been quite an influential force on Kimya Dawson’s new album Thunder Thighs (out now on her label Great Crap Factory). Many of the songs--as well as the Sesame-Street-on-acid album cover--evoke whimsical sensibilities that wouldn’t be out of place in a hip kindergarten classroom. Dawson’s desire to create music she can share with her now five-year-old daughter reached an apex on 2008’s Alphabutt, a collection of quirky children’s songs rife with enough fart jokes to keep both kids and their parents well entertained. Thunder Thighs continues in the same vein, this time mixing darker, more adult-appropriate tracks alongside kid-friendly jams. Regardless of whether she’s singing about drug addiction, narcissistic Twitter users, or her love for her bike, Dawson’s childlike voice and off-kilter guitar style combine to make a record full of fanciful, imaginative tunes.
Album opener “All I Could Do” explores the anxiety of new parenthood as well as the stress of trying to balance the demands of family with a blossoming music career. “It’s okay if all I can do at the end of the day is be a good mother,” concludes Dawson. She captures the emotional turmoil of motherhood so compellingly one wonders why more musicians don’t explore the topic. Dawson returns to the same theme on the percussion-heavy “You’re In,” which features the surprisingly catchy refrain, “Urine, urine/I need a lot of urine/So that I can pee on a stick.” On the loud, upbeat “The Library,” Dawson shows off her skills as a seasoned mother. “Where better to go with a two-year-old/Who gets cabin fever when it’s rainy and cold?” she asks. “The library, library is the perfect place for me.”
Dawson’s own daughter Panda lends her endearing vocals on tracks like the rhyming “Mare and the Bear.” One of the album’s most amusing songs is “Miami Advice,” on which Dawson tackles the self-absorption present on Twitter, comparing the social networking service to constant masturbation. Though the album is sometimes overly twee, her edgy, potty-mouthed sense of humor helps change up the mood. Dawson’s unusual, eccentric style is a welcome change in a musical era when innovative artists are a dying breed.