A passing listen to a musical interlude from Martha’s latest album may well transport you to a practice space in Pennsylvania, where bands such as The Wonder Years and The Menzingers are trading pop punk hooks and perfecting arms aloft choruses. It’s not surprising considering that, on what is now their fourth record, Martha have bolstered their sound and embraced a new heft in their guitar riffs, riotously evident on early standout ‘Every Day The Hope Gets Harder.’
However, despite the American emo and pop punk influences gnawing at the edges of their sound, as soon as any member of the band opens their mouths to sing they immediately place themselves firmly back in North East England. There is something quintessentially British in their inflections that become all the more evident with the crunchier backdrop. It is a juxtaposition that works well with the themes of ‘Please Don’t Take Me Back.’ The bare-knuckled hope of the American dream mashed with a matter of fact Britishness perfectly matches the band’s journey from hope to hopelessness and back again.
On the album’s title track there is a bold rejection of nostalgia. As guitar histrionics give way to the defeated refrain of ‘The old days were bad,’ we are treated to a refreshing reminder that we can’t always view our lives to date through rose tinted glasses. Some parts of our past are best left behind, and on ‘Please Don’t Take Me Back’, Martha have at least one optimistic eye on the future at all times.
The four-piece have become masters of quick bursts that leave a lasting impression. After all, what’s the point of using 100 words when five will do. Like an espresso before bedtime, their rapid fire riffs and startlingly relatable one liners bound around your head penetrate your senses. The premise behind the thrashed punk of ‘Baby, Does Your Heart Sink’ could not be any simpler, but in the hands of these DIY stalwarts it sounds like a post-modern masterpiece.
In typically stoic British fashion the group don’t let themselves get too carried away as clearly stated on album closer ‘You Can’t Have a Good Time All of the Time’ that finds them spreading a layer of shoegaze over their indie pop. And while that may be true, spending 35 minutes in the company of this record feels like a pretty bloody good time to me.
Words: Craig Howieson