The breadth of Blisters in the Pit of My Heart, the new album from Martha, will sneak up on you. At first blush, the band (hailing from a village in England named Pity Me) delivers tight, emo-inspired pop-punk. But these songs aren’t just three chords and speed; rather, Martha uses quick shifts and complex harmonies to turn songs on their ear.
Sure, it’s hard to ignore the pure infectious choruses of songs like “Chekhov’s Hangnail” and “11:45, Legless in Brandon”, but beyond that there’s the hard-crunch-turned-light-melody of the former and the classic rock hints in the latter that make them stand out. Elsewhere, the quiet beginning of “Ice Cream and Sunscreens” brings to the surface a bittersweet vein that runs through the entire record.
Despite the title of the record, this album doesn’t navel-gaze or romanticize pain. Instead, Martha manages to sound resilient and zealous throughout, making songs about persevering through quotidian work, like on “Precarious (Supermarket Song)”), or, more largely, through oppressive Catholic school, as on “St Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive)”. As the song’s stretch out and grow more complex (for example, late album epic “Do Nothing”), the attention turns not towards the broken world, but instead towards the outlets we find to make sense of it.
In some moments, the sheer speed of these songs is at odds with their complex hooks, with one possibly cutting into the effect of the other. Overall, though. the energy of this record draws you in. Blisters in the Pit of My Heart is an impressive record and a thoughtful ode to art as both expression and refuge.