Album Reviews

Sky Larkin – The Golden Spike

(Wichita) UK release date: 2 February 2009

Leeds’ Sky Larkin have got to be one of the least Yorkshire-soundingbands around at the moment. Coming across more like a band to be found atthe spot where Riot Grrrl and US College Rock intersect with female-frontedBritpop, their evocation of the sound of different decades (the ’80s and ’90s)and different (American) shores is a tonic for these late noughties, or “thedecade that is has not yet been named”, as they would have it, on Octopus.

In spirit, this is very much a positive album. As you get to knowit better, it gradually emerges as one of those records that somehow justgives you a little lift when the chords and “Ah-ah ahhh”s of opener FossilEye start crashing through your speakers, headphones etc. Katie Harkin’svocal – hovering somewhere between Juliana Hatfield or Kim Deal’s sweetnessand Justine Frichmann’s attitude – combines with a matching abrasive yetsweet guitar setting, and tunes that can often even outstay their welcome(welcome though they indeed are) by taking root, earworm-style, in yourhead.

Standouts include the perky Pica, with its jaunty rhythm and optimisticlyrics about “eating all this coal cos I’m trying to make a diamond”;Antibodies – curiously reminiscent of a great lost, female-fronted Sebadohtrack, particularly the pleasingly sibilant “Sentiment stretched oversediment and soil” refrain; Matador’s enjoyable lilt and jangle. Keepsakeshas a nicely dark theme, with creepy references to body disposal (“Gonna putyou in bottles and jars / And keep the bigger bits in the boot of the car”)which manages to sound both tongue-in-cheek and still slightly unsettling atonce.

Less successful tracks, perhaps, include Octopus, which edges justslightly too close to the bombastic; Somersault and One Of Two – both ofwhich I found a little dull and unmemorable, and the latter of which wasalso a little under-inspiring lyrically, with repeated lines like “you gofirst, no you go, no you go” giving the impression that they were just thereto fill space.

It’s also a shame that they botheredputting the hidden track at the end. As is often the case with suchefforts, this quick instrumental doodle isn’t really worth the dead-airwait, and can happily be skipped without much overall loss to the record.

Mostly, however, this is an album over which one becomes fond the more one listens to it. Its successful evocation ofsome pleasant stuff from past decades, its overall sunny-natured feel andits fine tune-smithery all combine to make it a collection of songs that iseasy to recommend.

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More on Sky Larkin
Sky Larkin @ Harley, Sheffield
Sky Larkin – Motto
Sky Larkin – Motto
Sky Larkin – Kaleide
Sky Larkin – The Golden Spike