Formed in 2011 by siblings Naomi (bass, vocals) and Nathan Griffin (drums, vocals) with J. Cairns (guitar, vocals) and Daniel Ellis (guitar, vocals), Martha have fast become a staple of the UK DIY pop scene. There are many competing stories as to the origin of their band name but it's a fact that the very last passenger pigeon on earth was called Martha. When she died, the whole species became extinct.
Decamping from the North East to record the album at Suburban Home Studios, Leeds, the band enjoyed the freedom of being in the studio and experimenting with MJ's equipment to produce unexpected sounds. The process saw them opening up to new ideas and, feeling more confident in their own abilities, allowing a wider range of dynamics.
Taken from a line in the song Gin and Listerine, the album title Courting Strong is an expression that was used to describe couples who were getting really serious. There's the old cliché that when you're young you think you're invincible and that everything will last forever - the album is about looking back and reflecting on past moments in your life, past friendships and relationships, accepting the uncertainty and fragility of those things and moving forward positively.
The overarching theme of the album is 'growing up weird'. It's a semi-autobiographical story about growing up in a small town, with a sense of not fitting in but on the way finding people who share that feeling and forming really strong bonds. It's about clinging to a sense of belonging and about being proud of who you are and where you are from, as well as the community of which you are a part. It's an album for the people who stayed in their hometown, and for the people who still go back and visit.
Martha's melodic punk pop celebrates being an outsider whilst being part of a community. The album touches on uncertainty, fear and loneliness whilst exuding an effervescent sense of excitement and joy. There's darkness beneath the pop surface - but there are also songs about teenage antics, drinking, courting and having your heart broken ' everything a good indie record should have.