Hand Mirror (label)
27 April 2020 (released)
27 April 2020
Former Sky Larkin member (Katie) Harkin has shelved the auxiliary act, ditched the back-up duties, furloughed her forename and struck out solo on this eponymous debut. Having toured extensively with the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Wild Beasts, Flock of Dimes, Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett and performed backing vocals for Dua Lipa on Saturday Night Live, Harkin’s credentials are in full view. In parts it’s all-out alt-rock, in others it’s meditative and psychically penetrative (the ethereal ‘Red Virginia Creeper’ and spectral ‘New France’).
A composed collection of (indivi)duality and the binary, it’s a travelogue of the dichotomy between things, the spaces in-between that when scrutinised reveal stark symbols. This is evident on ‘Dial it in’ where to do so entails missing seeing the bigger pictures, the panoramic perspectives that tell the whole story. Dig deeper will inevitably turn up treasure.
Borne from isolation and contemplation when snowbound in New York, ‘Mist on Glass’ (which instigated the outpouring of the following album) has echoes of Juliana Hatfield’s tough crie de cœurs.
‘Nothing The Night Can't Change’ (which features Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and Wye Oak & Bon Iver's Jenn Wasner) is a post-punk tribute to the Northern Lights; bright and full of might, all imposing and primped posing. However, it’s not the Arctic gleam and glimmer Harkin’s eulogising, it’s the Yorkshire enclave of Leeds, as the sun sets the fun gets … going. Urban blowouts for suburban go-outs, painting the town red, white and beaucoup. As she later gushes on ‘Decade’ she decrees that ‘love is for the night time’, the streets and squares amassed with the amorous, the allure and promise of the dark offering liquid escape via the hops and grape. Halcyon days that feel remote right now.
‘Sun Stay with me’ has an effortless grooving, perma-moving shuffle, a kinetic chasing of nourishing rays to attract its aid and distract the shade.
This girl from God’s Own County is no longer in the shadows, but, out in the spotlight.