Considering the hateful state of the world right now, ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ feels like a fitting mantra. Sticking together, looking after each other and holding love up in the face of increasingly visible bigotry feels particularly vital at the moment. This is the fire that fuels Martha’s third album, which opens with ‘Heart is Healing’: “This year blew my world apart / I’ve been with a broken heart,” sings co-vocalist Daniel Ellis.
It’s been turbulent time, for sure. A year after the release of the band’s second record ‘Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart’, the Durham punks pulled out of their planned support slot on Brand New’s tour following the sexual misconduct allegations made against Jesse Lacey,: “Support survivors always,” they later wrote on Twitter. This year, their long-time collaborator, Hookworms’ MJ, who produced Martha’s first two albums, was accused of sexual assault and abuse.
‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is Martha at their best. Vocals are shared out across the band, everyday storytelling is set to ridiculously foot-tapping pop-punk and there’s a real urgency to the record. The riffy ‘Into This’ , all curly melodies, dips into familiar territory with ferocity: “It’s almost painful how the Buckie’s brought out the red in your lips/ I’ll brush the hair out of your face but that’s as far as I can take this,” sings Naomi Griffin, faced with previously-disinterested drunk person who suddenly feels like kissing after downing a considerable number of of pints. Whether they’re falling out of love over a pub quiz on ‘Orange Juice’ or spotting the devil in a partner’s eyes as it all falls apart, Martha do away with broad heartbreak platitudes and focus on painful specificities.
Despite this, ‘Love Is Kicking’ still emerges with universe themes. Martha might hail from a tiny town called Pity Me – yes, really – in north-east England, but it’s clear that they don’t want you to do any such thing. With this jumble of wordplay and hooky songwriting, they’re unmistakably on fighting form.