For anyone with even a passing interest in alternative music, Leeds singer-songwriter Katie Harkin is akin to indie royalty. Her previous band Sky Larkin made playfully propulsive pop with Bjork-esque vocals, and she’s worked and toured with Sleater-Kinney, Courtney Barnett and Wild Beasts among others.
At its best, there’s a restless sense of ambition and drive, as with Up To Speed which emulates Hail To The Thief‘s capricious tempo shifts. Red Virginia Creeper has a wooziness, crammed with Eno synths and a feeling of being submerged in warm water.
Otherwise, the claustrophobia contained within murky guitar lines starts to feel like this whole global isolation process. It’s enough to make your skin crawl. Mist On Glass is a gloomy anthem; and Decade feels like a sickly nursery rhyme where Harkin chants,”I know what shame is… Shame is a killer”.
It’s undeniably self-assured work. But sometimes the sense of being hermetically sealed and suffocated kicks in and you long to open a window, or go on a stroll just to breathe freely again. It could be the ultimate isolation period soundtrack.
Harkin has spoken of this album being inspired by the stifling nature of British life and the paradoxes within: too much solitude; too much noise. Both can be killers when experienced in the extreme. This album is not a killer, but if you allow it to, it can (pleasantly) get under your skin.