Sky Larkin don’t really need an introduction, but I’ll give them one anyway, just in case you haven’t before been blessed with this eccentric, Leeds-based brand of indie rock. This four-piece formed in 2005, have supported the likes of fellow northerners The Cribs and math pop rockers, Dutch Uncles, and have once again rushed into the limelight this year after the recent release of their highly-anticipated, fuzz-filled grunge pop album, Motto.
Aggressive and boisterous, Motto screams and shouts about the struggles experienced by many emerging artists desperate to have their creative contributions taken note of. The group’s angst-ridden melodies, fused with the sometimes delicate, sometimes savage guitar grooves and slamming chords of lead guitarist, Nile Marr, create a brilliantly imperfect platform for the honest, colloquial vocals of front-woman, Katie Harkin. Not unlike the speech-like singsong vocals of fellow Brit, Kate Nash, Harkin’s choral abilities speak to listeners with a lush melodiousness and a cutting sharpness – no need to worry though, Harkin doesn’t have even a snifter of the cutesy, twee, faux-Cockney whines characteristic of Nash. She and her band are northerners through and through, and we don’t do faux anything. Nor pretension, for that matter.
Sky Larkin, as well as their brash musicality, are wholly down to earth. The group’s instrumentation, and most noticeably Nestor Matthews’ punching and kicking drumbeats, screams desperation and riotous rebellion, and punctuates each track like a heart abruptly stopping and starting again, like some kind of tuneful resuscitation at work. The strings of the bass, on the other hand, are plucked methodically throughout Motto by bassist, Sam Pryor, providing the scuzzy, lo-fi foundations of an album whose focal point is its emotional rawness. To top it all off is Marr’s crushing guitar-driven blasts and slashes, the crowning glory of Sky Larkin’s instrumental layering, practically cry out for musical mutiny.
If a little slice of autumnal grunge-rock sounds like your kind of thing, then this 13 track album, which plays out like the torment-ridden diaries of a bunch of West Yorkshire adolescents, should be just the thing for you. It isn’t ground-breaking stuff by any means, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t helping to expand the unexplored boundaries of indie rock, and moreover, that it isn’t worth listening to. On the contrary, Motto is a touching, tender and painful collection of tracks that should be heard the world over, if for no other reason than that their track, ‘Overgrown’, is one solely based on an accident which occurred ‘on the hills above Bradford!’