Sky Larkin are a British indie rock trio who formed in their hometown of Leeds during 2005, where old friends Katie Harkin (lead vocals/guitar) and Nestor Matthews (drums) were joined by bassist Lindsay Wilson, who later departed. Wilson was replaced on bass by Douglas Adams in the early part of 2007. The band spent 2007 finishing university, with Harkin studying in London, Adams in Scotland, and Matthews in Leeds. To combat the distance, they sent demo tapes between each other before regrouping in Leeds. Upon their return, they found their place in a thriving Leeds music scene -- which has spawned bands Pulled Apart by Horses, Dinosaur Pile-Up, and the Grammatics -- and here Sky Larkin were able to wield their own brand of lo-fi, American-influenced indie.
Firm believers in engaging their audience, the trio released cassette EPs and their 2009 single "Beeline" as an analog watch (with MP3s included), while building an impressive online presence through blogs and posting demos online. This method duly worked as they then signed to Wichita Records where they recorded their well-received 2009 debut The Golden Spike with American producer John Goodmanson (Death Cab for Cutie, Pavement). The band were happy to decamp to Seattle to record the album, with many of their apparent influences hailing from North America. Their mixture of off-kilter bass and fuzz guitar certainly nodded toward that of lo-fi indie acts Pavement and Sleater-Kinney. There was an energy and a live feel to The Golden Spike, evidence of which came from drummer Nestor Matthews' yelps -- spilling through into the drum microphones -- and the fact that he broke five snare drums in the process of its recording. While Goodmanson's unfussy production allowed Harkin's voice to rise and fall in the urgency of album-opener "Fossil, I," in turn, her voice brought out the sweetness in the band's poppier moments such as "Beeline."
Following the release of this debut, the band toured non-stop, supporting the likes of Broken Social Scene and labelmates the Cribs. Their constant appetite for live performance benefited their growing reputation further with appearances at 2009's Latitude and Great Escape festivals in the U.K.. Second album Kaleide arrived in 2010 and was leaked a month prior to its scheduled release. Working again with Goodmanson, they had matured since their debut, making strides toward a fuller, layered sound that included the frequent use of synths, which gave tracks like "Angelica Houston" a haunting, mantra-style feel. Opening track and single "Still Windmills" set the tone for the album, crashing into a heavily layered riff before boldly striding into the infectious chorus. The artwork for the album was created by Jack Hudson after Harkin sent him the lyrics on paper, and the resulting image of the colorful kaleidoscope ideally fit the record's tone. Third album Motto was written mostly while Harkin was on a massive tour, moonlighting with Wild Beasts. The album, released in late 2013, found some of the groups desperate lyrics meeting some of their most spirited musical compositions. ~ Scott Kerr