Some people just have a knack for melody. Their records are not so much new releases as comforting embraces. The Beach Boys had it; Teenage Fanclub have still got it; and one man who has it, but is curiously overlooked, is Martin Carr.
Five years on from his first outing under his own name, having traded as bravecaptain following the demise of The Boo Radleys, he returns in possession of a gloriously direct set of songs that feel instantly familiar.
Naggingly insistent single ‘The Santa Fe Skyway’ (video below) sets the bar high, while ‘No Money In My Pocket’ reveals a fragility that suits Carr’s weathered, warm voice.
Words: Gareth James
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Art Of Noise Interview
You never know what goes on behind closed doors – unless you ask! Martin Carr of The Boo Radleys and bravecaptain invites us to take a glimpse of his warped domestic bliss as a surreal painting provides a portrait of his family life. The stress of sleepless nights and the desire to escape a mundane routine manifests itself as the lyrically inspired, mismatched artwork to his latest album, ‘The Breaks’.
Shall I give you my theory of what I think is going on? Then you can tell me what actually is going on. Are these the two faces of vanity and desire?
(Laughs) I’d love to say yes.
I see the woman as ‘Desire’. She looks wantonly towards the artist, the poppies on her head representing opium and heroin; route one for desire and addiction. The bee obviously pollinates the poppies and spreads the message of addiction. The man represents vanity. He’s got a massive bunion on his chin, and while it looks like he’s holding a blue egg, I think it’s a massive pumice stone and he’s gonna vigorously shave off his bunion with his pumice stone, hence representing vanity. But what’s it actually about?
I think with the female figure you kind of capture a lot of the album itself. It is about desire, but not desire of particularly of material things, but just to be lifted out of the mundanity of having young children and doing the same thing over and over and over again. Having children is fantastic, but it’s really boring, mind-numbingly boring. It really kind of turns you onto feminism as well because the fact that women are made to do this all the time, it just crushes you, because you’re not getting any sleep either.
With the poppies, there are a lot of things taken from the lyrics. There’s a song called ‘Mainstream’, and it’s just about drifting through your days with just the energy to do what you have to do, with no time to be creative and no time to think. “The poison is the chloroform / Poisoned lullaby” is a line. I wish I could say something clever about the bee, but it is just the bee mentioned in one of the songs (Laughs).
So it’s not a political statement about climate change?
It is not, no.
What’s going on with the blue pumice stone?
It’s a goose egg, and a goose egg a lot of the time contains nothing and has nothing to offer. The woman with the bee is more fertile and the man has nothing to offer, and he’s got his marijuana plants in there. The eternal stoner.
Is that you?
Yeah, it represents me and my wife. Kind of.
Does she know this?
(Laughs) I kind of include the whole family in everything I do. I’ve just made a video for the next single and we’re all in that, in the house just getting on with what we do.
Killing two birds with one stone?
I know, yeah. “Let’s make a video without leaving the house!” It’s a dream come true.
So if you’re the stoner does that mean your wife is partial to taking a pipe of opium every now and again?
(Laughs) Purely cake and coffee.
How do you interpret the bruise on your cheek? Are you a victim of domestic abuse? Your wife has been battering you, hasn’t she? Your wife is at her wits end with opium addiction and you are bearing the brunt. This isn’t fair Martin!
(Laughs) Hold on! Let me dig the picture out of my phone... (Goes quiet for a minute) Yes! He does have a bruise! I see what you mean about his chin! It’s like an exorcising, like when you’ve got pent-up stress and sometimes you can’t articulate and it manifests itself physically… And can we just agree that the bruise is just a spot?
Interview: Matthew Bennett
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