There must be something in the water, but Australia seems to produce world-beating bands regularly. Smoking Martha, the latest in a long line of thunder from down under, are making their bid for the top, and Universe is a loud and proud wake-up call for anyone yet to catch their undoubted charms.
Smoking Martha: Universe (Xelon Entertainment)
Release Date: 3 December 2021
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Filled with feelgood and razor-sharp barbs, this tears along at 100mph. Universe is bubblegum pop meets punky hard rock full of irresistible hooks and big, dirty guitars. You can feel the skin peel off of your face as opening salvos Good Girls and Only Love tear out of the speakers, both bursting with melody as they cascade and soar over the ether.
Dripping pure sex, I Tried glories in its throbbing bass, and the longing vocals of Tasha D and Mick Broome’s busy guitar pattern kick in as the chorus hits like a freight train. It shimmies, it swings and shows Smoking Martha have a great grasp of light and shade. There’s a feeling of prime No Doubt in the fairground waltzer that is Wonderful Happiness, terror lurking behind the candyfloss and a crack of thunder as heavy sections punch through the bright colours.
The glorious, upbeat rocker Liquid Sunshine is like the world’s best party tune before things calm down on Intermission, rolling in on jazzy vibes and a late-night cry of sultry seduction. Equally gorgeous Neon Lights brings a shuffling acoustic beat, driving percussion and lush vocals together for a stroll through summer meadows before the driving pop-rock of Ghost revs things up again.
A hat trick of muscular stompers in the form of It’s A Lie, In The Shadows, and Wild & Free bring up the rear, the latter a lovechild following a triste between Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Extreme. It’s just down to the stripped back and heavenly charms of Universe to seal the deal, its incandescence and achingly atmospheric spell enough to melt the hardest of hearts.
Smoking Martha are glorious, and for them, the world is not enough.