by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Just a little over a week ago Boston's Puppy Problems announced their long awaited and highly anticipated full length debut, Sunday Feeling. Due out this coming Friday, September 14th via Sleeper Records, the band aka Sami Martasian and a few select collaborators, shared first single, "Comfortable," a fantastic early look at the brilliance of their craft, beautifully melancholic with lyrics that are radiant in their nuanced shades of simplicity. The ability to simply be happy, to love unconditionally, to clear your thoughts from self-doubt are never a given, and those sentiments find importance in Martasian's gorgeous songs.
Recorded over the past two years, Sunday Feeling has been a long time coming, and the wait was more than worth it on a debut album that's as confident in every detail, every heartbreaking phrasing, and the depth of its emotional resonance. Martasian is joined by Ben Styer, Benjamin Rector (Dust From 1000 Yrs), Ethan Long, Christine Varriale, and Joel Demelo, bringing their songs to life while leaving them confessional and minimalist in composition. They offer the perfect balance between songs built up and stripped down, each finding space as we're given a tour through the mind of Puppy Problems and Martasian's restless fears and worries.
From the sweetly gut-wrenching bedroom pop glisten of "Not Getting It Back," it's interpersonal heaviness ("take off your mood ring because you don't want him to know how you're feeling"), and blunt nudges that seem to test resolve ("your happiness does very little for me") to the brighter strums of "Hot Sauce" that offer lines as vivid as "...and every night it's the same old vision, my guts are falling through my ass-hole," there's a magic to the way these thoughts are brought to life, melodic, memorable, and delivered perfectly with just the right amount of detachment. That songs explores a soul that can feel bruised, feelings that go unreciprocated, and Martasian captures it with a singular hook, "what does it mean if I have to say it." The feelings become heavy and the music responds in kind, coloring their emotions between the lines. For every somber reflection however, Puppy Problems offer an earworm melody, a sharpened vocal harmony, something to latch onto, something warm and inherently comforting.
There's poetic despair to be found everywhere throughout Sunday Feeling. It's in the swarming "Tecate Tylenol" ("I swing by for dinner and they're always so nice, but they're scared to ask if I'm doing alright") and the finger picked front-porch darkness of "Daisy" ("I'm not strong enough to be a mother, I can't even take care of plants in my room"). Before long, tears have built and the heart is heavy as the cement on the pavement. On "Wet Dreams" (and it's exceptional banjo lead from Rector), Martasian opens with "wet dream of destruction only ever feature you, appearing as a lion that breaks me in two," and things get progressively heavier from there, but no less intriguing, each line of lyrics adding another knot in your stomach, deflated and utterly crushing but constantly engaging. No one ever wants the people they care about to feel so low, but it's a real feeling, and everyone experiences it at one time or another, some of us more often than we'd care for. There's moments of hope as they sing, "you're the only reason I don't really want to die," a faint glimmer, but a reason to push forward.
By the time we've reached "Dog Dreams," the air has cleared and the dust has settled, it's just Martasian's voice and an acoustic guitar over a close lo-fi recording. There's a weary acceptance that life is often lived in the grayer areas, Martasian softly singing, "I know things are really real, when I watch them break / I know that hell exists, I have been there twice / First time was pretty bad, the second was kind of nice. I met my old dog there, he chased too many cats. He said we all do bad shit, and that's the end of that."
With each and every line of Sunday Feeling both dissectible and digestible, Martasian has created a masterpiece of emotive songwriting that stems from the brain as much as the heart, synapses firing thoughts in every direction, the weight of the world resting their shoulders. Much like peers Bad History Month, the aforementioned Dust From 1000 Yrs, and to an extent Palehound, Martasian has brought us into a world where the recesses of their thoughts are battling to both soothe and destroy their being, delicately expressed in stunning songwriting. It's an incredible debut from a songwriter that truly deserves your undivided attention.