Marthas and Arthurs sound exactly like you’d expect them to. Well, as long as your basing your preconceptions on their name, and not on their CVs. If we told you two of them used to make electro-noise, then you’d have to say Marthas and Arthurs sound nothing like you’d expect them to. But no, instead they sound like at least one of them might genuinely be called Martha or Arthur (none of them are). This is an album rooted back in the age of the Mamas and the Papas, all pastoral folk and layered harmonies.
Those harmonies are their primary asset, and they seem to know it. While backed with an array of guitars, accordians and even flutes you might expect for a group earning all those 1960s comparisons, they’ve kept the levels down on every instrument except their wonderful voices. At times, it all gets a little twee. On occasion they undercut this with some biting lyrics (“Your leather and your motorbikes won’t help you now/But I’ve still got my poetry and you’ve lost your fake tan” they sing on ‘Who Will Marry Me?’) but not always – the lines “Ape on a train/She’s called Jane/Wearing pretty clothes/Some of them don’t go/And her clothes are stole” on ‘Ape On A Train Called Jane’ are clearly not designed for overanalysis.
Somewhere around midway through the album your ears might do a double-take as they burst into one of the more unexpected covers of the Stone Roses’ ‘Shoot You Down’, replacing Ian Brown’s sneer with a playful joy that transforms the mood of the song entirely. It takes a good deal of charm to carry off, but luckily for Marthas and Arthurs, they have plenty going.