If you’re wondering how a generation brought up on American cultural imperialism translates musically, then look no further than Melbourne’s Banoffee (Martha Brown). This chanteuse seems to have come out of nowhere, until you unpick her linage as part of Otouto, and sister of Two Bright Lakes head-honcho, Hazel Brown.
It’s fair to say that Banoffee has been long-awaited.
I first came to discover Martha through Otouto, a band which I think is peerless. Brown’s vocals are distinctly Australian (but not), whimsical (but not forced), and most importantly, in a class of its own (and underrated). It’s rare to find an Australian vocalist who manages to stamp a definitive identity through the mic, and Brown has this in spades. Here sits a voice that belies classification – vaguely reminiscent of the subtlety of Pikelet’s Evelyn Morris, but not quite.
On ‘Ninja’, you’ve got this mixed in with Brown’s reclamation of a certain late-90s, early-00s R’n’B aesthetic. This track’s antecedent is clearly Destiny’s Child’s ‘Cater 2 U’, and that’s really refreshing. Looking at Two Bright Lakes’ roster, Collarbones and Oscar Key Sung have done enough to instill R’n’B throughout the Melbourne-based collective. And this is where I feel acts like Banoffee mark a paradigm shift in Australian music. Considering the dominance of American urban music at the close of the last millennium, it’s high time for musicians brought up on this to translate this to contemporary audiences. In an Australian context, our failure to produce credible urban music has always been a chip on our shoulder, but with Q-Tip collaborating with Hiatus Kaiyote, times seem to be a changing. With Brown touting UK Bass and Detroit Synths as influences, here comes an artist that will most definitely shake up connotations of Australian ‘alt-pop’.
In sum, you need Banoffee in your life.