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Martha - Love Keeps Kicking (Album Review)

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Martha’s approach to pop music falls somewhere between kitchen sink realism and wild escapism. Over the course of two LPs and a slew of excellent singles the indie-punk quartet, who hail from Pity Me, close to Durham in the northeast of England, have cemented a reputation as a melodically savvy, socially conscious band capable of telling us the truth and then helping us to forget about it.

‘Love Keeps Kicking’, their new record, adds further pin badges to that jacket with songs that hit fresh highs in terms of craft and execution. Led by the sinewy riffs of guitarist Daniel Ellis, and with all four members again sharing lead and harmony vocal duties, here Martha look confusion and hurt in the eye and answer them with something joyful.

There is a collective spirit to their work, whether in providing grist for another singalong or utilising character studies to allow us to step inside their songs.

Where possible they avoid gendering those who navigate each narrative, and many of their heaviest lyrical blows are couched in conversational language for added resonance. “I diluted you like ice in orange juice,” drummer Nathan Stephens-Griffin sings on the heart-rending Orange Juice. “I don’t know what to do now.”

Broadly, ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is a break up album. But its considerations aren’t limited to romantic disentanglement—there is the lingering shadow of Brexit, an existential treatment of the climate change crisis and on Heart is Healing, the lead single, the idea that we should knock our nihilistic tendencies on the head.

At each turn, notably on guitarist J. Cairns’ fizzing Lucy Shone A Light on You, and elsewhere on Mini Was a Preteen Arsonist, Martha channel the hook-heavy excitement of power-pop’s ‘70s heyday while retrofitting it with messages beyond the typical boy-meets-girl-boy-objectifies-girl of that era. On the desolate final song, The Only Letter That You Kept, bassist Naomi Griffin seals that idea in a lament filled with broken promises: “Seduced you with those old love songs, they weren’t his words but he could do no wrong.”

‘Love Keeps Kicking’ leaves Martha three from three and cements their spot as one of the most consistently interesting, exciting punk bands currently in operation. There are new textures here—some washed out guitars, the odd sideline in alt-country twang—but their hearts are in the same place. For all the apparent hopelessness contained on the lyric sheet, the end result is something bordering on triumphant.

Martha Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue April 16 2019 - LONDON Garage
Wed April 17 2019 - NEWCASTLE Star & Shadow Cinema
Fri April 26 2019 - BRISTOL Exchange
Sat April 27 2019 - BRIGHTON West Hill Hall
Sun April 28 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Hare And Hounds
Fri May 03 2019 - GLASGOW Mono
Tue September 03 2019 - CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
Fri November 08 2019 - LONDON Heaven

Click here to compare & buy Martha Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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