st.martiins – hoping for the worst

On their debut EP as st.martiins, Katie Lynch and Mark Johnston's connectedness keeps times that might have been long forgotten in sharp focus

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 11 Mar 2020
  • st.martiins – hoping for the worst
Album title: hoping for the worst
Artist: st.martiins
Label: LAB Records
Release date: 13 Mar

Katie Lynch and Mark Johnston describe themselves as inseparable. They’ve known each other since they were 12. Their music as st.martiins on hoping for the worst evokes the blurred image on a water-damaged polaroid, memories of a summer half-remembered by everyone but themselves – their connectedness keeps times that might have been long forgotten in sharp focus. 

This EP’s twinkling dream-pop sustains from the moment you are plunged under its tremolo waterfall. The first four tracks trickle with reverb, while want god is paired with sour, acerbic kiss-offs to someone giving Lynch only partial attention: 'You live through your phone anyway'.

The last three songs don’t ditch the sun-bleached vibes, but prominent drum machines and Lynch’s deceptively soulful voice on my girl feel like waking up and stepping into something more overtly vintage pop. The Dundee-based duo describe their guitar tones as jazz-inflected. It’s a misnomer in a sense; very little seems improvised. But they do go unexpected places. When songs are pared down to just mournful strums, they sound cracked and off balance. They could be coming from a beaten-up transistor radio or tinny laptop speakers. That’s a good thing – it feels timeless.

Companionship is central to hoping for the worst. There are odes to good friends and inspirations (melvin, my girl) and elsewhere – including one track literally called bad friend – Lynch re-evaluates how happy some of the people in her life make her. But the duo’s inseparability outweighs them all. 

Listen to: saw the moon, want god, melvin