Release Date: May 31, 2019
Record label: Merge
When two anxious young lovers court each other, they're often inseparable. But when one adult starts to fall for another, the rules change. Afro-dynamic duo Sacred Paws might seem at times like just a vessel for Rachel Aggs' inimitable guitar weaves, but their second album Run Around the Sun also builds a cohesive argument for that old proverb about distance and hearts.
Whether it's SHOPPING 's 2018 record, The Official Body, or Sacred Paws ' SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) winning album, Strike A Match, Aggs' trademark hyperactive noodling is a consistent feature. Capable of both simmering in the background and weaving its own path distinct from the bass and drums, Aggs' performances initiate the same awkward jiving as Omni , impressive in their execution yet still somehow sounding unsure they're doing the right thing. Despite the inconsistent nature of recording Strike A Match (drummer Eilidh Rodgers living in Glasgow, Aggs in London), Aggs' playing found perhaps its most suitable partner yet in Rodgers, her eclectic, offbeat style a step-for-step match.
The neon sheen of Carly Rae Jepsen may not be the first thing one associates with Sacred Paws, the UK duo known for Rachel Aggs' loose guitar licks and Eilidh Rodgers' punchy percussion. But the Canadian queen was evidently on their minds as they recorded their second album, Run Around the Sun: "We don't make similar music but we want to create a similar feeling," Aggs said of Jepsen in a recent interview. Over ten propulsive tracks, the similarities to Jepsen's pop philosophy come into view: lyrics that detail arguments, anxieties, and regrets are set against the duo's most exuberant work to date.
With Sacred Paws' members having lived in different cities for the majority of their existence as a band, the project was always going to be the result of precious moments of overlap, a fleeting audio collection of a transient period. Previous release 'Strike a Match', was a long-distance labour of love between duo Rachel Aggs (vocals, bass, guitar) who was living in London (and also plays in Shopping and Trash Kit) and Eilidh Rodgers (vocals & drums) who was living in Glasgow at the time. Their first full-length - glittering, catchy art-pop - is a collage of all the songs they'd worked on together and lovingly assembled and pasted like an arts and crafts project.
I have a soft spot for duos, and I have a soft spot for 2016's Strike a Match, the first Sacred Paws record, which introduced us to the hook driven, upbeat, musical weaving of Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers. In the world of UK guitar pop music, where substance still often feels tediously defined by a post-Floyd sense of men being serious, and depth by levels of angst and the maudlin, bands like this one here feel suitably refreshing. Sacred Paws have a methodology, and it is one of exuberance.
The first sound from 'Run Around The Sun' is a screech and a whine coming from the guitar, a snare being beaten and, prepared for a face ripping riff to explode out of the whine, you are treated to a melodic, measured introduction of complex rhythmic guitar whose themes continue throughout the album. 'The Conversation' is a fitting introduction to an incredibly well written album, each three minute section giving birth to a more mature and measured version of the happy clappy indie pop rock from the mid 2000s. A follow up to the award winning album 'Strike A Match', which received critical acclaim across the board for its distinct pop sound, this explores much the same lyrical and musical themes as the first and not so much a new album, but almost like a re-examination of the first to eke more out of it.