Martha: Blisters in the Pit of My Heart


“When it rains. When it really fucking pours.”

Martha’s irascible, spitball joy tramples over pretentiousness and weighty platitudes with carbonated riffs and punctual yelps. The English band employs primary colors and overcast skies, simultaneously, to paint contemporary stories about love and loss. Martha waxes about sneakers squeaking on supermarket floors; the long, heavy hands of retail jobs; and the cursory strategy of being alive, ya know? Playful guitar licks and glib vocals ascend and twirl, spin and dive. There’s a tongue-in-cheek snark that laminates the proceedings, and the band’s jovial carousel of unapologetic quips and heel-tapping dissonance feels energizing and authentic – there’s no bullshit here.

The band – Nathan Stephens Griffin, J. Cairns, Daniel Ellis and Naomi Griffin – lend symphonic chaos to their album, “Blisters in the Pit of My Heart”. The LP is comprised of well-organized discord, transcendent fury, and sugar-dusted pleas. There’s no downtime on the record, no smoke breaks or bench leaning. Martha’s shoe-thumping crescendos burn and roll with smoke: Here is an album that isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, loud, and barbed.

Songs like “Awkward Ones” feel reminiscent of early aughts Brand New while being flecked with Belle and Sebastian’s erudite indie sensibilities. It’s an expert dance of emotional folly and principled pop magic. These gears feel familiar and yet they rotate on their own distinct and creative axis. With lyrics that leisurely scribble visceral lamentations of self-referential awareness – and vocals that rudder on, sportively –  “11:45, Legless in Brandon” is one of the best songs of 2016.

The success of Martha’s brilliantly emotive juxtapositions of sadness and hope lie in the band’s ability to believe: Believe in the infinite possibilities of love and opportunity. Believe in themselves. Believe in the bittersweet sadness of a good, no-nonsense pop-punk song. Not everything needs to be downtrodden tempos and Renee Falconetti stares. With confident, rock-punting vocalizations that feel of Davey Havok’s lithe and harmonic baying to tracks that soar with Isobel Campbell-like vibrations, “Blisters in the Pit of My Heart” is excellent throughout. Listen to this record now: it should be on constant rotation.



Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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