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-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: 'February 2012'

Our Rating:
When your day job involves helping to arrange the large and unpredictable musical circus that is the Morrissey organisation, it’s understandable that when it comes to a musical side-project that Boz Boorer would opt for the uncluttered simplicity of guitar / vocal duo HAPPY MARTYR. No international diplomatic incidents to be found here, no giant gong behind the drum kit, indeed no drum kit at all.

Comprising Boorer on his acoustic guitar and former Frigid Vinegar vocalist Alex Lusty (the pair previously recorded a fuller-sounding band album as The OneThree in 2005) it’s a direct, uncomplicated affair. There’s the barest musical augmentation here and there - dabs of light percussion, the occasional unobtrusive guitar or keyboard overdub - but, apart from the closing track Old Skool, which motors along with a thumping drum accompaniment to electric guitars, it’s just Boorer’s uncomplicated strumming and Lusty’s plaintive declarations of heartbreak and abandonment.

The results are folky, bluesy, poppy slices of kitchen-sink drama and although Lusty’s vocal origins may lie in old school hip-hop, here the delivery probably recalls as much John Cooper Clarke or Ian Dury as it does Chuck D. Morrissey fans, of whom there will inevitably be a few investigating, will find a reassuringly familiar world-view presented, viciously poignant, seemingly permanently beset by emotional betrayal - “If you’re asleep it means you’re not leaving” declares Lusty on Sleep Tight, or “Look at these people I have nothing in common / I just don’t feel human when I walk among ‘em” on the bluesy Parachute.

The best compliment to be paid is that is that Happy Martyr easily outsteps any limiting characterisation as a side-project at all, easily strong enough to stand alone.
  author: Rob Haynes

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