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Martina Topley Bird - The Blue God

Martina Topley Bird, The Blue God

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

IT’S been almost five years since Martina Topley Bird mesmerised everyone (or those that bothered to listen) with her brilliant debut album, Quixotic, which fused trip hop with vintage soul, and rock with nocturnal blues.

The seductive singer – who has collaborated with everyone from Tricky to David Holmes – makes a long overdue return with The Blue God, an almost recorded in LA over a three-month period in 2007 with the help of super-producer Danger Mouse.

The result is an LP that intoxicates with moments of shimmering beauty, spreads joy with its effervescent pop beats and which takes all the contradictions of Martina’s past and wraps them up in live instruments and DM production values. We’re talking a little Hollywood chic, some psychedelic pop riffs, ambient interludes and her trademark futuristic pop noir.

You pretty much know you’re in for something special from the start, as a lush piece of electronica and a ping-pong like backbeat combine with Martina’s sultry vocals on Phoenix, a classically dusky slow-burner that, quite simply, raises anticipation.

Former single Carnies, with its bittersweet lyrics and reflective nature, remains an absolute gem of a recording (and criminally under-rated by the masses), while April Groove layers on the psychedelia but keeps things nicely poppy (if you like Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, you’re sure to dig this).

Things continue to get better with the beguiling slow-burner Something To Say, which drops a wonderfully soft backbeat and mixes in organs, strings and acoustics to create another bittersweet moment of brilliance.

Baby Blue has Danger Mouse’s slick production values stamped all over it – the percussion is stepped up and almost funky, working in wonderful juxtaposition with Martina’s slightly more sedate vocals.

And Shangri La is just a heartmelter of a sunsetter – the type of track that Zane Lowe would adore on his Radio 1 pre-9pm slot. It drips with quality.

The hits just keep on coming. Snowman begins with a stop-start approach that makes you think the CD is sticking, before breaking into a slinky Wulitzer waltz; Valentine offers pure psychedelic chillout and Poison features dreamy surf guitar riffs, Danger Mouse’s distinct production values and another stunning set of vocals that offset the darker lyricism contained within.

Razor Tongue, meanwhile, continues the darker theme and offers the bleakest offering on the LP – combining the slow-burning brilliance of Morcheeba at their peak with the vocal style of Portishead.

Fortunately, it’s followed by the impossibly upbeat Da Da Da Da which, like its name suggests, is rife with happy go-lucky pop melodies and an infectious sense of its own fun.

Final track Yesterday brings things to a slightly experimental close, but is evidence of the way in which Martina isn’t afraid to diversify while still getting it right.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another five years for her third album for this is truly a special release.

Download selections: Carnies, Something To Say, Razor Tongue, Poison, Da Da Da Da, Baby Blue, Phoenix

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Track listing:

  1. Phoenix
  2. Carnies
  3. April Grove
  4. Something To Say
  5. Baby Blue
  6. Shangri La
  7. Snowman
  8. Da Da Da Da
  9. Valentine
  10. Poison
  11. Razor Tongue
  12. Yesterday