EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

This is tough, self-reliant stuff, EMA is eager to say what’s on her mind, and not afraid of playing a role in the telling.


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Now this is a great record, full of passion and verve. EMA used to be in Gowns, a band who Incendiary always liked, and it’s good to hear that such a band has left this legacy. This is tough, self-reliant stuff, she is eager to say what’s on her mind, and not afraid of playing a role in the telling.


 There’s a thread in the lyrics which seems to suggest self-reliance, getting away from idle pleasures; that living out in the wilds is “where it’s at”. There’s also a preoccupation with abstract notions and vivid visual metaphor to portray emotions or ideas (check out The Grey Ship and California): everything feels (or is set up to be) slightly glorious, slightly portentous, very much like the visual ideas the Bunnymen played with round Heaven up Here. It also reminds me of the Doors in that respect.


Past Life Martyred Saints is also an LP that is adept at changing direction, building or breaking tracks on a coda. It’s a sort of exercise in essay writing made music: create a mood or argument, then knock it to pieces or confirm it with trumpets blaring from on-high. One or two tracks plod along to little effect (Milkman is one) but on the whole the tracks are hard, uncompromising and often - as on Butterfly Knife -giving out a tough message. Best is left till last: Red Star is a smouldering display of intent.


Powerful stuff indeed