“There was no need to shout this time,” Marten said of her latest album in press materials, a lengthy step away from 2021’s bass-fueled, relatively experimental Flora Fauna. Just like the bulk of her “quieter” work, Drop Cherries, with its minimalist arrangements and subtle wisdom, rewards careful listening. The 23-year-old’s songwriting strikes a curious thematic balance, at times inviting the listener to self-reflect and explore existential questions, while also accentuating the beauty of enjoying the simple moments.
Following the lovely, meditative opener ‘New Idea’, ‘God Above’ appears, at first, as an expression of romantic adoration: “Fresh are the flowers/ And air that is sweet/ Bringin’ me back to you.” In the chorus, though, the image of woman as representative of divine forces emerges and takes centre stage. “I know God above/ ‘Cause I saw her there/ I am dreamin’ of/ Her golden hair,” Marten lilts amidst rhythmically plucked strings, “And she’s everywhere.” ‘Just Us’ similarly uses lexical fields of wilderness and personhood, this time combining them to represent transformation and strength through references to sycamore trees, traditionally symbolic of protection and regeneration: “Your legs stick out like sycamore trees/ I feel them grow when we’re asleep,” Marten sings, incorporating silky vocal runs. The artist represents a partnership that is beautifully in sync, in which one personality is fuelled by the other, consciously mirroring each other’s every maneuver: “I move, you move / I choose, you choose.”
In ‘Willow’, trees take on a different role, with the ‘two weeping willows’ symbolic of lovers longing to be physically closer. The darker, deeper vocal tone mixed with the tense rhythm renders this the most stirring chorus of the album: “Hidden in your shoulder curve/ Waiting for your chest to burst/ No one said that it would hurt/ Knowing you,” Marten sings, exploring the bittersweet association between intimacy and ache moments before an elegant clarinet solo. There is room for darkness on this album, then, with the slow-paced, folky ‘Acid Tooth’ relaying, through its use of repetition and slightly off-kilter chord changes, the cyclical self-sabotage that our own minds can be responsible for. The outro’s particularly unsettling sharp notes and soft echoes are accompanied by an exhausted honesty: “I wish that I could turn it off”.
Still, the album is most memorable in its unapologetic expressions of romantic joy. ‘I Can’t Get My Head Around You’, a track Marten herself calls “a cruiser,” sees a blissful mixture of comforting guitar strums, tender drums and “pinch me” moments of pure appreciation for a partner: “But I can’t get my head around you/ And I can’t get enough/ And I’ve been looking so hard for love.” The song also sees a nod to Marten’s 2021 track Liquid Love, which delivered the gorgeous line “I kiss the lips/ Of every sun coming.” “I won’t forget thе taste of my morning sun,” hums Marten this time, and this little instance of recognition reminds us that despite their differences, there is still much that bonds the two albums. Whether dipping into themes of painful personal growth, candid endearment, or revealing a never-ending appreciation for garden imagery, it’s the same artist whose journey we’re following – no matter how soft her sound.