Maybe it's the saxophone that squeals happily throughout King Martha -- a fine instrument that for some reason has become almost entirely invisible in mainstream pop music -- or maybe it's the sardonic edge of Kenton Hall's vocals, but the second album by the U.K.-based trio IST is strongly reminiscent of a certain breed of British post-punk pop bands of the mid-'80s. China Crisis, the Blue Nile, the Blow Monkeys, the Chameleons UK, Terry Hall's the Colourfield, and seemingly countless others: these were bands who were too clever to leap fully into the Spandau Ballet end of the pop mainstream, but their music was too smooth, too catchy to appeal fully to the anorak brigades. IST might fall between two stools in the same manner, but they're sure to push the same buttons for anyone who liked the above bands. Hall is a smart and smart-alecky singer, and the other two primary members of the band, John McCourt and Mark Haynes, are equally capable of creating tunes of unapologetic prettiness (the piano-based ballad "Haunted") and more immediately catchy pop-rockers like the opening "Momentary Glitch." A uniformly appealing album filled with memorable tunes, King Martha is lightweight pop in the best possible sense of the term.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason