Review: Playful Enemy by L. Martin

Trust me, you will love this EP.

by Olivia Langenberg

Features and Lists Editor

I first discovered L. Martin on a Saturday night in Brooklyn when I impulsively bought a ticket to a Triathalon show with my friends. L. Martin opened up the show. He was wild- flying all over the stage and bopping around to his playful songs. Needless to say, this performance packed a punch and I was glad I took the subway for over an hour to see it. Little did I know, “L. Martin” is actually Luke Martin Olson, former lead singer of The Walters. I thought his smooth honey-like voice sounded familiar.

Last week, Olson released his first solo EP as L. Martin titled Playful Enemy. While this EP is only 6 songs–a mere 20 minute listen–it certainly left an impact on me. To me, Playful Enemy felt like the process of healing. Recovery, you could say.

The first song of the EP is called “Anymore.” It’s pretty easy to imagine the scenery of this song, as the opening line croons, “We took a drive, late at night.” I feel like I’ve seen this exact scene in some of my favorite rom-coms. There’s a pair in a car realizing that this relationship isn’t what it used to be. This is the beginning of the healing process that is Playful Enemy. Olson comes to terms with how things are changing. This song is a fairly consistent ballad up until the last minute when a horn section comes bursting in. This little instrumental at the end was incredible. It made me think of bursting through two double doors and running out into a field, dancing around, knowing that you’ve broke free of whatever was holding you back.

After breaking free comes the journey to getting the hell over it. That’s what happens in the next few songs. In “Traveler,” we find out that this isn’t the first time L. Martin has been on this journey. He’s been through this before, but he’s on the road again. (Side note: I don’t know what it is about this song, but I couldn’t stop thinking about covered wagons and the Oregon Trail while listening to it. Anyways..) “Writing to My Yesterday” is a sweet reflection on the past, or perhaps to Olson’s old ways. Towards the end, he bellows, “How am I to go / When everything I know has weighed on me?” Yeah, I felt that one. It’s really hard to let go of past mistakes, especially when your brain just won’t turn off.

Are you on board with the first half of Playful Enemy? Well, surprise! The second half is way better. The last three songs are commanding. L. Martin is starting to get a grip. These songs are such a great representation of recovery. Sometimes you think you’re better, but then you fall down and start thinking about how you got down in the first place. In “Talking to You,” Olson declares “I’m done with things that make me feel sad,” but then goes right into how he feels haunted by the past in “Broke.” Memories are a real bitch sometimes.

Ultimately, everything comes together on the title track “Playful Enemy.” This song deserves to be played at a high school prom. Or in my apartment when my roommates are gone. This song slaps. While there’s definitely an underlying theme going on here, I can’t get the lyric “I don’t want to die, I wanna be alive” out of my head. Even if he doesn’t really mean it in this particular song, best believe I’m going to scream it at the top of my lungs.

At the end of the day, I have no idea what L. Martin’s actual intentions were with Playful Enemy. All I know is how it made me feel, and let’s just say I saw a lot of the past six months of my life while listening to this EP. Give this a listen next time you have 20 minutes to spare. You won’t regret it, and it’ll make you that much happier to be alive at a time when music like this exists. 

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