Oct 28, 2022
By Caleb Campbell
Durham, England indie pop punk band Martha are a testament to consistency. They have a steadfast formula and haven’t drifted too far from it in their 10 years as a band, though they’ve released a trio of excellent power pop records along the way. Take careening punk guitars, quick-fire emotive lyricism, open-hearted twee charm, and heaps of pop hooks, and you have the makings of a great Martha record. Yet, for a band that has innovated in increments, their new album, Please Don’t Take Me Back, may be the best distillation of their formula yet.
Like most great power pop records, the appeal of Please Don’t Take Me Back is simple and universal. Most of all, Martha are here to have fun. They’re a band that thrives on the serotonin rush of an irresistible melody, an amped-up guitar riff, or a shouted gang vocal. The choruses of “Beat, Perpetual,” “Baby, Does Your Heart Sink?,” or the title track are so elementally catchy that anyone can sing them word-for-word by the end of the song.
Yet, while Martha crafts their songs on sugary pop foundations, they also approach their music with a heart and maturity that is uncommon to the genre. “Hope Gets Harder” finds the band searching for a way to stay positive amidst ongoing overlapping crises, while “I Didn’t Come Here to Surrender” takes a defiant angle toward an uncertain future. It all culminates in a final moment of catharsis with the closer, “You Can’t Have a Good Time All of the Time,” a track that is possibly the most joyous and communal song about facing climate disaster ever written.
Many bands mix the political with the personal, but few bands make both into hopeful collective experiences like Martha does, all while remaining one of the most consistent bands in indie punk. One could question how long the band can go without changing things up, but if they continue delivering records as good as Please Don’t Take Me Back, they could go on forever and nobody would complain. (www.marthadiy.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 8/10
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