The following Martha and the Muffins Metro Music album review was published in Used Records & Tapes #1 [RoosterCow Press]
Martha and The Muffins weren’t chart toppers. They weren’t MTV darlings like The Police, A Flock of Seagulls, or Men at Work, etc., but this Toronto outfit played an infectious blend of new wavy pop that may seem completely forgettable at first listen but will indeed burrow deep down into your brain. It digs in.
Far superior to what many 80s bands were producing at the dawn of that decade, Martha and the Muffins managed to sound fairly fresh and, unlike many of their contemporaries, hair cuts were kept in relative check. (Yeah, I’m talking to you Kajagoogoo.)
Martha and the Muffins - Metro Music Review
Metro Music is the band’s debut. The cover art, which features a metro map of the city of Toronto, looks more like the ‘70s art rock the band was born from than any brightly-colored 80s pop album, and the songs contained therein are smarter than the dumbed down work of other bands of that era as well. (Yeah, I’m talking to you Kajagoogoo.)
Martha Johnson and Martha Ladly are the two Marthas in the band, but this isn’t Marthas and the Muffins so it is unclear who the main Martha is. Perhaps this is just a bit of cheeky ambiguity. Interestingly, Martha Ladly plays trombone which is cool because I played that instrument throughout that decade as well. Granted it was in junior high and high school band, but still, we have that connection and that’s awesome. It is also worth noting that the saxophone playing employed on this record is pretty non-obnoxious which is always appreciated.
The leadoff track, “Echo Beach,” was the hit, which is fine and all, but it is hardly the best offering on the record, or even the best on side A. “Paint by Number Heart” reminds me of Devo’s “Planet Earth” for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on. It has a great bass line and choppy guitar. “Saigon” is a cool tune with call-and-response keyboard riffs. “Indecision” sounds like the Athens band Pylon with just a tatch more emotion. “Hide and Seek” has some great bass as well.
Martha & The Muffins was a smart band who played top-notch pop rock that was leaner, meaner, and more clever than many of the detritus that littered the musical landscape throughout the ‘80s. It still holds up. Bake some for yourself today. — Chris Auman