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Everybody has felt a sense of Betrayal. Yes, Betrayal with a capital ‘B’. This nasty feeling that makes us feel stupid, angry, sad, and lost all at once. Even worse, it brings the most pathetic out in us. The feeling of Betrayal likes company. Once it brutally appears, every single unpleasant feeling that you usually try to bury deep down inside come to the surface. When you blend all those dreadful feelings together, the mixture is bitter and sour. Oh Betrayal! What an odious blight on human history!
But for the talented Banoffee, aka Martha Brown, the sense of betrayal is more than an unbearable emotion, it’s a raw material. Like Tracassin, who has the power to spin straw into gold, Banoffe transforms her sadness into fresh and sweet melodies, as if by magic. Her new EP Do I Make You Nervous? is a joy. It is the very antithesis of basic, cheesy songs created for broken hearts by broken hearts as the delicate voice of Brown floats wonderfully above the mix of quirky electronic pop and R’n’B sounds.
Banoffee’s second EP Do I Make You Nervous? is like the Sun in the allegory of Plato’s cave: it’s beautiful and authentic, and although listening could evoke pain, you can’t help but be enraptured.
Much like Belgian songwriter Stromae, Banoffee creates a paradox in her songs. The lyrics are often sad, but the music is energetic. For instance, if you close your eyes listening to With Her, it’s easy to imagine yourself dancing in the rain – the music is lively and dynamic. But paying closer attention to the lyrics, you’ll hear pain. Instead of bringing you down, the melodies makes you want to embrace it all, to observe the pain from every angle, and inevitably, to dance with it.
The Melbourne singer/songwriter goes through the different stages of bereavement throughout the EP, utlising delicate vocals and pristine production as a platform for her own internal excavation. She is obviously shocked when, on With Her, she echoes “Her, her, her” with such vehemence that every repetition gives the impression time stops and truth hurts once again.
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She then experiences denial on Fall Fast, clutching to hope as she sings, “I am never letting you go.” She turns angry on I Am Not Sorry as rhythms swell and pulse, affirming more and more that she will not feel guilty.
Brown shows a side of sadness on Body Suit, revealing the one she loved was like her second skin. In the chorus her voice wavers over intricate R’n’B production as she proclaims “I’m sweating/I’m crashing.” Finally, she accepts reality on Oceans when she realises that “this is how it’s going to be for some time.”
The rollercoaster of emotion on Do I Make You Nervous? is surmised perfectly by the EP art featuring Brown seated with her back against a wall, head in her hands, clearly in a state of unrest. She has the kind of voice that is so fine-tuned that emotion can be displayed with only the most minute tweaks and turns as she battles with conflict inside her head. And somehow this all sounds so pretty.