By David Lownds
25th September, 2013
As great as rock can sometimes be, like any genre its legends spawn many imitators, wannabes and other bands that sound similar to the kings and queens but just aren’t good enough to claim right to rule. Sky Larkin is yet another indie band whose new effort Motto is largely a collection of punchy, urgent rock tunes with relatively bright, angular riffs, choppy guitars and a tight rhythm section. Sound familiar? It’s the kind of thing that fans of the early work of 21st century indie bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park and We Are Scientists will probably take an interest in, if not love. But that’s part of the problem: there’s little, if any originality. Plus, there’s none – or very little – of the raw edginess of the latter band’s playing, nor the emotional intensity of Bloc Party’s performances … except, that is, at the start of the song “Overgrown”.
Beginning with the haunting lyric, “In the hills above Bradford/There was a horrid accident”, the song, and the singer’s delivery, instantly draws the listener in, and the guitarists’ playing matches the mood excellently. That said, none of the rest of the song lives up to its superb beginning. Also, despite similarities to indie’s golden boys, Motto does not possess quite the same pop songwriting skill as any of those acts: the sort of thing, amongst other qualities, that would elevate this collection of songs from good to brilliant. It would also be good to see more diversity rather than a single piano-led track, “Que Linda”, ending a mass of samey, predictable guitars-and-drums compositions.
After listening to 2010’s Kaleide once, that album seems to be more interesting than Motto. The latter is not especially ground-breaking, nor is the album as a whole quite catchy or emotionally affecting enough to ensure a long stay in the listener’s head or heart. This is better than mediocre, but they could do so much better. Let’s hope that the quality of Sky Larkin’s music does not deteriorate, and that instead they spark a revolution powerful enough to take indie’s greatest from the top spot. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but hey – the former prospect would be a royal pain.