The Null Device

The Graun on Arthur & Martha

The Graun has a capsule review of the Arthur & Martha's début album:
[i]t's redolent of the C86 sound currently being revived, not just here but in the States. Only this isn't straight "shambling"/"anorak" indie copyism. What A&M do is a sort of cutie krautrock – if you want motorik credentials, their debut single was called Autovia – or tweetronica, using toy/playground electronic gizmos, battered old Casios and Korgs and cheapo drum machines to create gentle, tinny yet poignant pulsebeats that move their achingly pretty, minor-chord melodies along. Imagine, if you will, St Etienne in space, with Sarah Cracknell, who knows about celestial bodies herself, cooing interstellar lullabies through a vintage microphone, or Kraftwerk playing Field Mice-ish wan songs at a freshers' disco. No wonder A&M themselves call what they do "music for robots to dance to"; no wonder, too, they've been described as "Aphex Twin remixing the contents of NME's seminal C86 tape …"
They were going to title their forthcoming debut album The Microchip Tears, a neat way of encapsulating their analogue melancholy and silicon requiems, which were written by the pair in the aftermath of a series of failed affairs. Yet it's that old chestnut "upbeat misery" that you hear on tracks like Squarewave to Heaven, This City Life and Kasparov, which evoke images of undergraduate lovers in regulation Oxfam-wear transported to a distant galaxy where they dance like androids under a cherry moon.
And it is a pretty good album; a combination of quality indiepop songwriting and Kraftwerk-via-New-Order synthpop. The Graun mentions reference points such as Stereolab and Broadcast, though I'd cite more a recent generation of indie(synth)pop bands like Baxendale, Trademark and White Town. It's not in the shops until the end of June, though you can order a copy from the label today.

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