CD REVIEWS: Martha and the Muffins: Delicate

Arts & Entertainment/Music by

Delicate is Martha and the Muffins’ first album after an 18-year dry spell. The band – considered a top dog in the Canadian New Wave scene during the 1980s – is known for their debut album’s hit single “Echo Beach,” which became an international chart-topper. Going on to release nine relatively unsuccessful albums throughout the 80s and 90s, the band has since been fighting against the crushing moniker of “one-hit wonder.”

At times Delicate sounds messy: the songs are cluttered with flat vocals, choppy lyrics, and aimlessly synthesized instrumentals. One particularly difficult song is “One in a Million,” in which the line “one in a million” is repeated over and over. However, there are a few songs which pop out as potential silver-liners. “Mess” is undoubtedly the best song on the album, seamlessly mixing chanting with a funky dance tune, demonstrating the band’s talent for catchy synthpop beats. “Blue Bed” and “Life’s Too Short To Long For Something Else” are slower songs void of the band’s habit of excessive noise – they highlight Martha Johnson’s vocals, which are best suited to these nostalgic folksy songs reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” with hints of a Joni Mitchell sweetness.

Perhaps the romantic history attached to this album is its most redeeming quality. Throughout the three decades and many bandmates, Martha and the Muffins have dwindled to two remaining members: Johnson and Mark Gane. Over the years, Martha and her muffin have fallen in love, married, and had a daughter. This unusual relationship has survived 10 mediocre albums, countless band members, and a brief taste of fame.