Release Date: Sep 16, 2013
Record label: Wichita
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
“I know there’s potential” was how Katie Harkin introduced her band’s second album Kaleide, around three years ago. And it’s that ‘p-word’ that seems to have defined Sky Larkin over their career so far – so much promise, some inspired bursts of genius, but lacking that certain something which could propel them to the next level. Motto, however, is where Sky Larkin undoubtedly deliver on that potential.
“Can we carve it out/A life in the shape I care about?”, asks Katie Harkin on Sky Larkin’s third album, ‘Motto’. It’s eight years – and one recent line-up change – since the Leeds band formed, and frustratingly, their boisterous grunge-pop has never quite received the dues it deserves. But, as the anxiously aggressive ‘Carve It Out’ makes plain, doing it honourably and honestly at least makes the struggle all the more worthwhile – and romantic and professional struggles are writ all over ‘Motto’.
You’ve heard of grasping the nettle, but what about upping the ante and trying a cactus? There's one adorning the cover of Sky Larkin’s third, proudly defiant record, and it’s a fitting image for a band that has quietly and steadily built a reputation for spiny yet deceptively succulent rock. To this point that is, as Motto - a giant leap forward - should by rights see a band that was previously and puzzlingly sidelined in British indie circles garner the recognition they merit. The record is of such quality and vitality that they now simply demand it.
The scruffy Leeds-based unit Sky Larkin have always leaned on the sounds of disenfranchised '90s indie guitar heroes like Sleater-Kinney and Sonic Youth to churn out their pensive but passionate songs. With third album Motto, they turn in their brightest production that only just barely obscures some of their darkest lyrical moments. Singer/guitarist Katie Harkin wrote a lot of the lyrics while moonlighting with friends Wild Beasts on a massive international tour, and when it was time to return to the writing process for Sky Larkin, she tapped into a specific breed of alienation and despair that mirrored both the intensity and monotony of the tour.
The idea of undiscovered gems in this era of infinite choice seems somewhat perverse. That any band - especially one on their third album, with a fair amount of critical, if not commercial, acclaim - could be described as a hidden talent is obviously slightly squiffy, but Sky Larkin’s star has always burned that much brighter than even their list of plaudits gained.This is, to offer no exaggeration at all, one of our most brilliant bands. Three albums in, reshuffled, retooled and really bloody brilliant, they’re stronger than ever before.To suggest this is a band out on their own would be fibbing slightly, but when it comes to a defined sound, few have one as distinctive.