We said J Bengoy’s last single should be the song of the summer. Their latest probably shouldn’t. It’s about almost drowning. Kind of a bummer subject for any season.
Not that you’d guess it from the lyrics to this power-pop jam. The opening line “Waiting for the weekend” anticipates an aquatic experience more Jimmy Buffett than Jeff Buckley. But the song’s optimism grew from a traumatic moment lead singer Justin Barton had on a Costa Rican vacation several years ago. While body surfing, a rip tide pulled him under. “I remember one minute ducking under a wave, weltering, and then being what felt like a football field from shore,” he says. “I only remember being focused on how to get back. My life didn’t flash before my eyes. My brain just went ‘Shit, this is a dangerous situation.'”
He eventually made it to safety and his brush with death didn’t really hit him until the trip home. Sitting in the Atlanta airport on a layover, “Reprise (Marthsaville)” poured out. “The song is sort of about love being a reason to make it back to shore out of the sea,” he says, hence the surprisingly cheery lyrics.
The “Marthasville” title refers to the original name of Atlanta. “By using the former name for Atlanta, I was trying to represent the whole ‘if a ship has each piece of itself replaced over the course of a journey, is it the same ship when it comes back into harbor?’ thing,” he says. “Was ‘Atlanta’ still the same place as ‘Marthasville’ when it changed names and grew to a different town? Will most people even realize that ‘Reprise (Marthasville)’ is just a radically different take on my [previous] song ‘Pet Names’? Does it matter if they do?”
An upbeat track with a downbeat origin story, “Reprise (Marthsaville)” references power pop like the Kinks and Feelies as seen through an appropriately beachy haze. It’s a one-off as they work on a follow-up to last year’s debut EP. Listen to it below.