For most artists, making music is an all-or-nothing game. Doing so requires their complete and total devotion to being creative, crafting songs, and performing at gigs. Needless to say, it’s a demanding process. However, DIY band Martha finds a way to balance the responsibilities of daytime labor with their passion for playing music. With their latest release Blisters in the Pit of My Heart, they showcase the importance of perseverance and staying true to yourself.
Martha formed in 2011 in the suburb of Pity Me near the city of Durham, England. The British indie/pop punk group consists of J.C. Cairns and Daniel Ellis sharing guitar duties, Naomi Griffin on bass, and Nathan Stephens-Griffin on drums. In 2012, they released their self-titled debut EP. Two years later, they released their highly acclaimed debut album Courting Strong. Following its release, the band toured and performed throughout the U.K. all while working day jobs and attending university. That same determination is displayed on their recently released sophomore album, out now for listeners and critics to enjoy.
Martha Crafts Passionate Punk Songs with Pop Undertones
The album’s opening track “Christine” is pure, gritty punk at its finest. It begins with a brief intro of echoing feedback. An erupting cascade of noise soon follows as the song is overtaken by pulsing bass riffs, energetic drumbeats, and slashing guitar riffs. Mere seconds after, these elements create a kinetic, fervent tone that’s certain to inspire some good, old-fashioned moshing. Sailing on top of them are the spirited yet harmonizing vocals from all four band members.
The next track, “Chekhov’s Hangnail,” mixes that same punkish attitude with a vibrant pop rhythm. The rhythm arises from emphatic drumbeats delivered by Stephens-Griffin and steady basslines courtesy of Griffin. Alongside them are buzzing, jagged guitar riffs and sincere, hollering vocals. When paired with lyrics like “It might seem that we lost the battle / But no one wins the war / No one keeps score,” they add a bodacious dose of angst-coated honesty to this piece.
Then, there’s “Precarious (Supermarket Song),” a song about young adults working and wasting time at a supermarket. With a springy mixture of lively drums and cymbal crashes, bouncing bass riffs, and coarse, cutting guitar riffs, it possesses a certain charisma that makes you want to get up and dance. A similarly jumpy, danceable feel resides in “Goldman’s Detective Agency,” whose central protagonist is famed 20th-century philosopher and anarchist Emma Goldman. Here, spunky guitar riffs are laced with a catchy rhythm formed from thundering drums and a sonorous bassline. All the while, loud, boisterous vocals push the song forward with striking harmonies and emotive power.
Closing the album is “St Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive),” focusing on queer kids in Catholic school. Against a series of pleasant, mellow guitar lines and somber piano chords, the group collectively belts out melodic, euphonious vocals. Despite this, this song has a stern, earnest tone that’s best expressed in the lyrics. Lines like “They wrote a letter to your parents / They caught you kissing on the bus” and “Those lines are not for crossing / Now, the damage has been done” highlight the struggles of self-expression and gaining freedom against forces weighing down upon us with social and religious expectations.
Thus, with their second album, Blisters in The Pit of My Heart, Martha poetically blends punk rock and pop music to deliver a simple, humble message: be the person you want to be.