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Sacred Paws
Run Around the Sun Johny Lamb , May 29th, 2019 10:16

The second album by Sacred Paws, Run Around the Sun provides a finely rounded meal for Johny Lamb

I have a soft spot for duos, and I have a soft spot for 2016’s Strike a Match, the first Sacred Paws record, which introduced us to the hook driven, upbeat, musical weaving of Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers. In the world of UK guitar pop music, where substance still often feels tediously defined by a post-Floyd sense of men being serious, and depth by levels of angst and the maudlin, bands like this one here feel suitably refreshing.

Sacred Paws have a methodology, and it is one of exuberance. Albeit quite unlike the champagne drenched excesses of an act like Confidence Man. This is not comedic, nor surface level. It is emotive, and often there is sadness running through even the most kinetic of melodies (check ‘Shame On Me’). But they are joyful in their sound and in their energy, and the sparingly but deftly used brass underscores this well. They get that we want to dance (I mean, I won’t, but I want to).

The influence of West Africa remains large throughout these songs, and it never feels clumsy (a testament to both composition and technique). The details are often impressive as counter-melody and call-and-response vocals intertwine with an abundant sense of playfulness.

It is perhaps with rhythm that they subtly excel though. The relationships forged between instrumental and vocal parts in this regard are deeply satisfying, and each listen provides moments of fresh pleasure. Just as things feel like there might be just a shade too much similarity between the songs, they shift gear into ‘How Far’, and we get a calmer more reflective version of their style, providing that oh-so-necessary difference. This swiftly deals with – and demolishes – the creeping suspicion one might get that Sacred Paws are brilliant cooks that only make puddings.

We all love fine desserts, but sometimes we need the savoury. Perhaps we never really get to saltiness, but we certainly get new flavours. Run Around the Sun is a well-structured record in this way. It retains energy, but has enough twists and turns to still provide a consistently interesting landscape. They have made a beautiful confectionary, but one made with rigour, skill, and care. A joyful album, leaving me aching for a live performance.

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