Martha – Courting Strong
"Now I may be a reject / But to tell the truth, you’re scarier than a prefect." With every dimwit commentator lauding the recent past as some hazy utopia, our half-assed notion of ‘retro’ legitimising everything that was actually just plain fucking grim, it takes a surer sense of romanticism to get away with a line like that.
Courting Strong, in (vegan, straight-edge four piece) Martha’s own words; an account of "growing up weird," is exquisitely playful but indefatigably clear-sighted. A barrage of power harmonies, seriously chunky guitars and a bucket full of melodies support the pinpoint, nostalgia-free narratives: ten absolute diamonds that mark them out as pack-leaders, even at this stage.
Dust, Juice, Bones and Hair purloins beautifully from The Wedding Present, its super-sweet riff a trans-generational homage as savvy as Joanna Gruesome’s Secret Surprise. But it’s the madcap lifting of Rush’s Spirit of Radio on Move to Durham and Never Leave – oh, and the Nova saloon on the cover – that can flip a listener from slightly infatuated to hopelessly besotted. [Gary Kaill]