It’s been 33 years since Martha and the Muffins gleaned the
new wave rumblings coming out of Canada’s eastern provinces and melded
them into a sound that would soon garner them international appeal. With a top
ten single courtesy of “Echo
Beach,” the band was
signed to Virgin Records and subsequently released seven albums, all of which
came to represent an artsy, new wave noir which stood them apart from the pack.
Nevertheless, the Muffin’s time came and went, and while its
co-chairs Martha Johnson and Mark Gane turned to scoring music for movies and
television, the Muffins’ pretty much turned to toast. That makes Delicate — an album five years in the
making — the band’s first new offering in nearly two decades. Not that the
expanse has had any significant impact on their approach; far from it actually.
Johnson is as sultry and seductive as ever, the MO still emphasizes groove-intensive
rhythms, and the approach overall tends to be more quirky than not. The
skittish jolt of “One In A Million,” the carefree swing of “Drive,” the
thunderous roll of “All I Know,” and the jungle chants that punctuate
“Crosswalk” all testify to a certain specificity. The dance designs also remain
intact, from the fluid bass lines of “Sailing Through The Light” to the
percussive shuffle and “la la la” chorus of “Mess.”
So have Martha and the Muffins been missed? That remains to
be seen, but one thing’s certain. Delicate is a bold move to reclaim their fame.
Tracks: “Life’s Too Short To Long For Something Else.” “Drive” LEE