Sky Larkin

Kaleide

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AllMusic Review by

If Sky Larkin were to be deconstructed and studied in a scientific laboratory, the results would show a band built on the foundations of American indie rock but with undeniably British sensibilities and charm. On the six-string, Katie Harkin channels a female, Leeds-born Steve Malkmus to create unpredictable musical landscapes that twist and turn, refusing to repeat or stagnate. Vocally, however, things move a little closer to home. On the title track of Kaleide, Sky Larkin's second album, Harkin declares "As far as I can tell/Characteristics I exhibit have shown in you as well/Based on this evidence I'm willing to risk it", her delivery sharp and clear and the sentiment undoubtedly British. But, to again contradict this, Kaleide was recorded in Seattle with John Goodmanson, who worked with the band on their debut, The Golden Spike, and has also fittingly produced Sleater-Kinney and Death Cab for Cutie. While clearly the work of the same band with the same ideals and vision, Kaleide is a welcome step up musically from The Golden Spike. For a start, Harkin’s vocals are stronger and more confident than before and Nestor Matthews is really hitting those drums, creating towering, elaborate walls for the guitar and the bass of Doug Adams to contend with. Fortunately, they do all that and more, with opener “Still Windmills” a prime example of how to make a three-piece sound interesting, fun, and big. Meanwhile, “Landlocked” throws the listener into a false sense of quietude, beginning with a gentle strum and Harkin practically whispering a melody in our ear, before a thunderous intervention from Matthews that leads to the song hurtling toward a joyous riff. All the while, Sky Larkin manage to remain tightly knit even on the most complex arrangements, always stopping just shy of feeling out of control. On “Spooktacular,” the band gets heavier and more mischievous than they’ve ever been, yet “ATM” is a reminder that Katie Harkin is equally capable of pulling at the heartstrings as she is letting us know that “There’s a spook at the spectacle and he’s wearing your face.” Kaleide is an addictive, unpredictable, and adventurous record that refuses to stand still, jumping back and forth from one side of the Atlantic to the other with apparent ease.

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