Martha return with their second album Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart in July, via Fortuna POP! (UK/EU) and Dirtnap Records (US). Produced again by MJ from Hookworms, the album explores the difficulties in staying political, staying passionate and staying punk over the course of eleven expertly crafted pop songs.
Hailing from Pity Me near Durham, Martha play energetic, impassioned power pop with intricate vocal interplay and lush four-part harmonies, informed by 90s indie rock and contemporary garage punk. The band is comprised of J. Cairns (guitar), Daniel Ellis (guitar), Naomi Griffin (bass), and Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums). All four members sing and write the songs. Daniel and Nathan also play in Onsind, while Naomi also plays in No Ditching. Their debut album 'Courting Strong' came out in 2014 and was included in NPR's top 50 albums of that year, winning them the epithet 'One of Britain's best rock bands'.
If the band's first album, 'Courting Strong', was about punks growing up, then 'Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart' is about grown-ups staying punk. It's an album about trying to stay creative and passionate and making the most of everything in spite of the many obstacles that get in the way. It documents the way things like work, money, expectations and mental health issues can impact on your ability to do the things you want to do and be the person you want to be. It's about resistance to those things. It's about finding strength and solace in friendships, love, and taking motivation from the people in your life who really inspire you.
As Nathan explains: 'Playing music is something that is really important to all of us, but it's also something that takes a lot of time and energy and emotional strain. This record is for everyone who leads a secret double life, devoting every weekend, every day of annual leave, all of their disposable income, every drop of creative energy to something as ethereal as music and art. It's about persevering and still doing the things you love, even when most normal people can't understand why on earth you do it.'
Taking inspiration from such likely and unlikely sources as The Replacements, Heart, Billy Bragg, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Go-Gos and Radiator Hospital, the album bursts into life with 'Christine', 'a love song filtered through the messiness of anxiety and night terror' that takes inspiration from 'Threads', the British TV drama of the 1980s about nuclear war, and is followed by the rousing 'Chekhov's Hangnail', with backing vocals from Ellis Jones of Trust Fund.
The catchy 'Precarious (The Supermarket Song)' finds romance in the washing powder aisle, while 'Goldman's Detective Agency' shows the band's playful side as they re-imagine 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians. Nearly every song here is a potential single, from the infectious 'Do Whatever' and '11:45, Legless In Brandon' to outsider anthem 'The Awkward Ones' and the Billy Bragg / Coronation Street-referencing 'Curly and Raquel'. The album concludes with 'St Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)', a song about being caught up in the toxic culture of a Catholic comprehensive school. 'It's for the kids who had the guts to be queer at school and for those who didn't figure themselves out until they got out of school. '
Following a Glastonbury appearance last year at the personal invitation of Billy Bragg, the band will be playing UK dates in July and August before taking to the stage at End Of The Road in September. It's going to be a busy old time for the band, what with double lives and everything, but, with passion and love dripping out of every second of 'Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart', you know they'll find a way.
2. Chekhov's Hangnail
3. Precarious (The Supermarket Song)
4. Do Whatever
5. Goldman's Detective Agency
6. The Awkward Ones
7. Icecream And Sunscreen
8. 11:45, Legless In Brandon
9. Curly & Raquel
10. Do Nothing
11. St. Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)