Sacred Paws

Run Around the Sun

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Sacred Paws' second album doesn't deviate from the winning formula the duo perfected on 2017's Strike a Match: twanging Afro-pop guitars, pulsing drums, giddy vocal interplay, and songs catchy enough to latch on like a deer tick and never let go. Rachel Aggs (vocals, guitar, bass) and Eilidh Rodgers (vocals, drums) apply the same high standards to Run Around the Sun, working with much the same team to create a joyous indie pop listening experience. This time around they have upped the production values a little by adding a slightly richer horn section to most tracks and more keyboards (as provided again by Free Love's Lewis Cook), along with an overall punchier sound. It's the kind of sonic expansion that could have led to an overcooked sound, but that's definitely not the case here. Instead it gives more dimension to the melodies and makes the record sound widescreen as opposed to the focused punch of the first album. Aggs and Rodgers certainly don't sound any less energetic as they trade off vocals and attack their instruments with fervent glee. They sound like they play and sing with huge smiles plastered across their faces, and the feeling is infectious. Trying to sit still during a song as propulsive as "What's So Wrong" is impossible, not air drumming to the rumbling "Is This Real" seems unlikely, being unmoved when their voices come together in angelic unison on "Brush Your Hair" would be plain wrong, and not being impressed by the way they meld influences, voices, and instruments so well throughout the record could only be considered criminal. The exuberance Aggs and Rodgers bring to every note, the inventive twist Aggs gives to her guitar lines, the strong and supportive drumming, the beautiful way their vocals sound like an intimate conversation between two lifelong friends -- it all comes together perfectly once again. Run Around the Sun may lack a (very tiny) bit of the immediacy of Strike a Match; it makes up for it with richer arrangements, deeper emotions, and songs that inspire nothing but the warmest feelings. It's another triumphantly jubilant album by a band who are second to none when it comes to that kind of thing.

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