Release a new EP called Live by Night, that’s what; and I’ve had an exclusive listen, so there!
Images by Nick Padmore and Matthew Hennessy
Upgraded from Dad’s cast-off mono record player, in the early eighties our Amstrad Hi-Fi was the stuff of Star Trek, with a record deck drawer openable by the press of a hoary button, when compact disc was an itch in its Daddy’s pants. Ten-out-ten for innovative design Amstrad, zero for effectiveness; unfortunately, by 1984 a notch developed in the runner, causing the needle to bounce off during the interminable process of retraction, triggering permanent damage to any vinyl that dared enter; still want my money back Alan Sugar, sir!
I recollect praying it wouldn’t occur to Howard Jones’ 12″ Album; loved that disc with its shiny red cover, ruler and a 12″ Howard Jones looking up. Yet, twas a silly name, being all albums measured twelve inches. I could’ve risked leaving the drawer open as the record spun, the danger being if someone ran into the room smashing into it; doomed if I did, likewise if I didn’t.
Unsure why this memory shoved its way to my anterior cortex while listening to Live by Night, the title track of Larkin’s new EP, which is ready for pre-order and to be released December. Only after listening to the first tune 1AM, still chatting online with singer Sam Bishop, I despatched my approval; 1AM is highly addictive, very catchy. Sam replied, Live by Night was his personal favourite, which I found interesting, to my ear it’s the most eighties influenced of this trio-track beauty.
On retrospect, Howard Jones may seem too commercial a comparison, yet, who knows, youth may find it necessary to Google this lost-in-time pop star. I guess, there’s a portion of new wave synth-pop stimulus, particularly in this one tune; picked apart though, there’s numerous influences I could cite. Teenage son sauntered into kitchen while listening, to drop off a collection of plates littering his room; he considered it was more “indie” than previous Larkin tracks. I see where that comes from, and agree, but don’t get me started again on indie; as Larkin is independently produced by Martin Spencer at Potterne’s Badger Set recording studio, therefore according to my antiquated usage of the term, it’ll always be indie.
In a past review of the debut album, Set You Free, I likened Sam & Finely to Simon & Garfunkel, which aside their drive for perfect harmony, I withdraw this comparison for Live by Night. Whatever influences I could allude, all are subtle, which I think why Howard Jones cropped up, he developed a certain style from synth-pop, commercial though it maybe it was instantly recognisable, and I believe Larkin do similar. Like a signature Set You Free was merely developing, Live by Night stamps a definitive unique and wholly original method to the future sound of Larkin, and it’s amazingly exclusive.
Amazing enough for me to steer away from associating this to other local-sourced music, as I did with the debut album, and more towards what the contemporary big boys of the music industry are producing. I accept, I may be past it, but my daughter teases my ears with her Now albums on car journeys, so fully aware what pops, and I categorically believe Larkin need a fat contract and to be racing up the national download chart with this.
From the three tunes then, Falling is one, which, released as a single, I reviewed in the summer. I said of it: “Sam’s droning vocals perfectly echo the adolescent despair, the surging heartache of the theme, over an atmospheric soundscape and sublime but subtle drumbeats.” I think this quote is suitable for the other tracks also, a running theme of youthful quixotic confusion of relationships; despair, heartbreak and misperceptions meddled into the acute song writing.
After an alarm sound, which might annoy if it wasn’t for the simple fact 1AM is a brilliant song and possibly my favourite of the three, lyrics echo through, “it’s one AM, it’s one AM, now what are we gonna do?” Contemplating a trivial argument which blossoms out of control in the wee hours sustaining apprehension, my middle-age mind might suggest, “go to bed, sleep on it; all seem better in the morning.” But this resonance worry, tribulation, returns me to a juvenile condition, a time when romantic uncertainty and anxiety preoccupy the conscience; hope ex-girlfriends aren’t reading this, sniggering “you twat!”
So, despite struggling to find an angle we’ve not previously covered for Larkin, I’ve managed to chew your ears off long enough about how fantastic this is, a natural and positive progression from their debut album, concentrated into three solid and marketable tunes that Sam and Finely should be very proud of. You can pre-order on iTunes (here), or wait until its release day for the CD, but take heed, this is not something you want to miss; feels like the making of something special.
Something special you can help the boys celebrate between Christmas and New Year, similarly as they did last year with the album launch, the EP launch will be the Devizes Conservative Club on Saturday 29th December. For just a fiver, Larkin will be backed by a seven-piece band, and it promises surprises such as support from the boy’s close friend and musician, Julien Biddulph. CD versions of the new EP will be on sale, but any ticket bought will include a free copy; yay, beats a cold turkey sandwich any day.
Reserve your tickets now, by select “going” on the Facebook event and comment how many tickets you need. Alternatively, email: email@example.com
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