Ruth's Manuvas


My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

Sky Larkin: Kaleide – album review

Sky Larkin

Long before their 2009 debut, The Golden Spike, Sky Larkin sat in the ‘top set’ at band school, along with many of their indie classmates who were also getting high marks for their lauded first albums.

Johnny Foreigner were there, as were Danananakroyd and Los Campesinos! – all gunning for each other’s music and often appearing on each other’s gig bills as support. One album on and much of this still stands; but on Kaleide, this Leeds trio sound a little heavier and altogether more accomplished with their brand of punky, lo-fi indie, that dares to stray occasionally into twee and math rock-rhythmical territory.

Make no mistake, it is Katie Harkin’s sweet yet punchy vocals that make Sky Larkin memorable – Still Windmills is tunefully coy and bears hallmarks of the aforementioned musical peer group. Soaring, tightly plucked guitar riffs balance with the clever, heavy metaphor of, “Like still windmills, there’s potential.” Later on the album, ATM’s slower pace and loop played by a piano recollecting an old Western film is the right platform for its lyrical charm, as Katie asks, “Wonder whether a selfish heart is a truthful muscle?”

Title track, Kaleide, is bass heavy, discordant, and toys with off-timing, allowing everything to clash pleasingly in the aural cavity before, “Let’s kaleide!” adds a neat little wordplay element suitable for the anorak-preciseness of this difficult-to-play track.

Bassist, Doug Adams and Nestor Matthews on drums are the engine room of this band. Complex, changing rhythms on Shade By Shade and Guitars And Antarctica are two amongst a catalogue of tracks that show how talented the duo are. They play peekaboo with math rock on Tiny Heist; meanwhile, Landlocked has all the minor notes and off-beats of Tubelord.

Throughout this second album, the threesome show they have a knack for repeated lyrics which effectively drill songs into the consciousness. Anjelica Houston repeats, “As the train pulled out of the station, the light hit your face like Anjelica Houston,” and becomes almost mantra-like. On Year Dot, sentimentality and an aptitude for simple storytelling lyrics surface with, “One pile of bones so they’ll know we were friends” – and has more than an echo of Johnny Foreigner’s dewy-eyed Yr All Just Jealous.

Delivered at breakneck speed and sounding rather like the band were keen to make a quick exit, the aptly named Spooktacular was recorded in the crypt of a Yorkshire church – it is all too hurried and lacks some of the nuances of other tracks on the album. Coffee Drinker’s tales of the morning after also feel sobering on what is otherwise a well crafted mix of tunes.

Sky Larkin know how to sign off – the SHH version of Smarts is stripped back to a heartbeat rhythm, simple guitar and vocals, harking back to the Leeds trio’s mission statement of strong storytelling lyrics.

Up until now, when mentioning Sky Larkin, it was necessary to name-drop the other bands that stand in the same ‘scene’ in order to place them. Kaleide should mean these stabilizers can be removed, as this is a band that should be noticed on their own merit.


Reviewed for Gigwise

Filed under: album review, , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. dsqd says:

    Hey, nice review, the math rock label is quite accurate I think. Kaleide reminded me a lot more of American bands than British ones…did Katie’s vocals even have a slight American twang at times? Or was I just imagining it?

    • ruthsmanuvas says:

      Actually now I listen again I think there is an American drawl to her voice yeah – in a good way. Although I defo hear the hallmarks of a British band when I listen to their music. I still haven’t seen them live, but they play Leicester soon so they’re top of my list

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: