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The Golden Spike

Sky Larkin

7 / 10 Given the sprightly nature of their fizzing pop-punk, we’re almost certain Sky Larkin are not a testy bunch. If they were, this trio hailing from Leeds (singer Katie and drummer Nestor) and London (bassist Doug) might have left for lands less judgmental than these following the number of pet peeves – if not theirs, then certainly ours – that have been aired in the run-up to the release of their debut. Firstly, they’ve been compared to Sleeper, the microwavable burger of Britpop, on more than one occasion. This, of course, is tantamount to being declared less valuable to culture than channel Five. The only saving grace in this is another irritant – the sole reason for the comparison appears to be that the gender of the frontpersons happens to be the same.

Katie and her band differ by writing great, uplifting, lo-fi pop. That’s not to say we can’t compare Sky Larkin to other lady-fronted bands, though: Sleater-Kinney (Sky Larkin recorded this in Seattle with the righteous rockers’ producer, John Goodmanson), Pretty Girls Make Graves (the disco-punky ‘Keepsakes’ especially) and Ida Maria (her with the nasal, faltering yet impressively bold voice) make more suitable bedfellows being – pretty key this – far closer to Sky Larkin’s sharp sound.

What else might irk them and keep right-hearing people away is Sky Larkin’s (mis)association with twee, mimsy indie after their tours with The Research and – horror of badge-collecting indie horrors – Los Campesinos!. This in spite of Sky Larkin’s fondness, displayed however fleetingly on ‘The Golden Spike’, for QOTSA, Patti Smith, prog (there’s a mussed-up Mars Volta in ‘One Of Two’ and ‘Geography’), Sonic Youth and a glorious pop melody. In Nestor, too, they’ve got one hell of a drummer who would be equally suited to battering away in metal bands, as well as a panoply of thundering – but, of course, still perky and shimmery – guitars.

With songs based loosely on archaeology (‘Fossil, I’), lonely car wrecks (‘Molten’) and a guide to how to achieve some joie de vivre, explained by way of atomic structure (‘Beeline’), even if this trio lack real edge and anything in the way of an earth-shattering song, Sky Larkin have at least had a go. That they’ll sell far fewer records than Sleeper is thus an even bigger crime.

Chris Parkin

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