by Annie Fell (@zitremedies)
On the Bandcamp page for Puppy Problem’s (((((demos)))), an EP of six—you guessed it—demos, frontperson Samantha Martasian writes, “Music should be fun and I’m trying to make it fun for me again.” Featuring only Martasian and an acoustic guitar, (((((demos)))) is an exercise in separating the feeling of loneliness from simply being alone. Having recently moved to New York from Allston, Massachusetts—a neighborhood of Boston where Puppy Problems are local heroes of a sort—the EP makes me miss Fall in the city, when the old colonial houses seem even spookier and you can’t help but feel alienated not being one of the students on their way to class.
(((((demos)))) is more like a series of mini diary entries than a cohesive album. “Take my shoes off for me?” is the most striking track on the EP. Martasian bargains “If you take my shoes off for me, I promise i’ll love you for the rest of my life.” The song is poppier than the rest but still deeply pained, with Martasian listing off their unachievable goals (most notably: “I wanna be an astronaut but they don’t let crazy people on the moon”). The other standout song, “Tecate/Tylenol,” is a markedly Bostonian account of love, loneliness, and longing; the blunt sadness of the song is evocative the era of life when most of your troubles are set in beer-soaked apartments and musty dive bars.
The diaristic nature of the album is unpretentious and comforting. The songs are the type of lo-fi acoustic recordings that sound like they could have been echoing from my neighbor’s house or my roommate’s bedroom when I was still living in Allston. They remind me of every bedroom I lived in there, intimate and secluded from the relatively quiet streets. Martasian’s voice is gentle and a little ragged, unsure of itself but still undeniably commanding of the listener’s attention.
At times, Boston can feel uninhabitable if you’re not a student; there’s an inherent loneliness living in a city where most socializing is done in dorm rooms and frat houses. It’s obviously not a feeling specific only to Allston or Boston in general, but I think Samantha Martasian’s ability to articulate it so honestly and relatably is why their work is so beloved in the neighborhood. (((((demos)))) is very good but it is not fun, though I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It’s a small capsule of a specific time in one person’s life, but it inadvertently speaks to the nature of a larger scene, neighborhood, and city. (((((demos)))) is therapeutic, maybe in more ways than Martasian intended, and while that isn’t necessarily fun, it’s absolutely necessary.