Martha and the Muffins are a Canadian band who released their first album in 1977 and had a hit in 1980 with the song “Echo Beach.” But don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of them. They haven’t made a new record in 18 years. I’m not familiar with their output from 30 years ago, but I do know what I like and I like Delicate. It doesn’t sound desperate or warmed over or stodgy or any other negative adjective you could attach to a “reunion album.” They’ve gone from the Virgin label to an independent, self-produced record, but the smaller sound suits them well. Again, I don’t know what they sounded like when they were an ’80s pop band, but now they’re making tight, well-crafted songs that sound vaguely ’80s–but only vaguely. The album plays with the pop structure, moving from fast to slow, from synth-loopy to live drums and guitar, and with great vocals that sound fresh and original.
I particularly enjoyed “Even in the Rain,” which has an echoey, sad sound, and beautiful, subtle guitar work. It almost sounds like Cat Power or Marianne Faithful. It feels intimate and vulnerable. But right after that, with “Mess,” the band proves it can do funky pop, too.
Quite a good record!
Live performances of the band’s old hit, “Echo Beach,” are available on youtube, but they can’t be embedded. This can: