Sky Larkin – Kaleide (Wichita) 09/08/2010

August 15, 2010 by  

Always in the Los Campesinos!, Johnny Foreigner, Kabeedies, or even a subdued version of Dananananakroyd bracket, indie pop-rockers Sky Larkin did little to show much greater promise then any of the above mentioned on their debut album. With their second album now out, it is interesting to see whether much has changed this time around.

Picking up from last years debut, The Golden Spike, – a British indie pop record with its ear in America – Katie Harkin et al continue with their unsurprisingly American sounding British indie pop follow up.

Mildly cutesy lyrics, energetic guitar melodies and rolling drum beats, matched with their Rilo Kiley type choruses, it’s clear there is no real progression in style from their debut sound, yet at least they have advanced in the quality of the songs on offer – it’s not broke but for the most part they’ve fixed it.

There are some hints at change, take for example the slow burning ‘Anjelica Houston’. It’s an enjoyable romp, but darker undertones creep in with a subtle organ arrangement, adding depth and most importantly a more coherent use of dynamic. The same cannot be said for ‘Tiny Heist’, which is similar and almost as enjoyable, but could of easily appeared on their debut album. A number of the tracks not only could have been on ‘The Golden Spike’, but could also be the same song (‘Spooktacular’ or ‘Coffee Drinker’ separated by a few BPM it seems, and ‘Guitar and Antarctica’ – what did that sound like again?)

Lurking in the pop trudge is the sumptuous ‘Landlocked’, although, yet again Golden Spikey, it has a grittier edge, perfectly balancing the ‘rawk’ tightrope. A nice little highlight.

The real gems appear at the front and back of the album, with what lies in between acting as an indie lovers valley of delight, and show that maybe, just maybe, you can judge a book by its cover.

Opener ‘Still Windmills’ shows off Miss Harkins vocal strengths, echoing one Régine Chassagne, and is a hook laden treat with a seductive chorus up there with the closing number ‘Smarts’. The track is an intelligently crafted guitar/vocal exchange, with a harmony that flows throughout, interspersed with a fuzzy drum filter, and particularly stands out as it’s just that bit different from what they’ve produced in these whole two albums.

You see, where ‘Still Windmills’ show the band have possibly done better at what they’ve always done, the subtlety apparent in ‘Smarts’ shows that if they tried something different, nothing is impossible.

Don’t count them out yet.

[rating:3]


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