Sky Larkin, ‘Motto' (Wichita)
Right out of the gate, Leeds-based Sky Larkin's third album, “Motto,” bursts with energy. The opening title track sets the tone for the rest of the record: The unrelenting drive and momentum of the music along with Katie Harkin's infectious vocals make for a powerful combination. The album is also loaded with intriguing chord deliveries by vocalist/guitarist Harkin and Nile Marr (son of Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr), surprising musical turns and key changes.
Some have called the band “grunge-pop,” but perhaps a more apt description would be “noise-power-pop.” Songs like the aforementioned “Motto,” “The Loyal Beat,” and “Treasury” manage to be catchy while at the same time utilizing the kinds of adventurous guitar-driven chordal and melodic explorations of bands like Sonic Youth and Jawbox.
“Carve It Out” speaks of a determination to “carve it out, a life in the shape I care about/ Can you live with that?” “Frozen Summer” breaks the album up a bit, a change-up at a more languid tempo that is no less intense and powerful in its own way than the rest of the record. The same could be said of the achingly emotive “Overgrown,” which follows two tracks later.
The funky, slinky noise-rock bliss of “Italics” is followed by the haunting and sparing “Que Linda (Wake to Applause),” which closes the album with disarming beauty.
— Michael Senior