PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Sacred Paws Make Fun and Upbeat Rock Music on 'Run Around the Sun'

Photo: Katherine Rose / Merge Records

Glasgow-based indie poppers Sacred Paws offer up a second album full of brisk, bright songs that draw from several styles, notably Afrobeat and post-punk.

Run Around the Sun
Sacred Paws

Merge / Rock Action

31 May 2019

Run Around the Sun, Sacred Paws' second album, is a collection of brisk, bright songs that draw from several styles, notably Afrobeat and post-punk. Imagine a less pretentious, more sonically focused Vampire Weekend and you're off to a good start. Technically, the band is a duo, with Eilidh Rodgers on drums and percussion and Rachel Aggs on guitars and bass. Both women share singing duties, with a lot of harmonies and interlocking vocal lines. However, most of the songs on Run Around the Sun sound like the work of a quartet or sometimes a full six or seven-piece group. Aggs almost always has two distinct guitar parts going as well as a bassline, while Rodgers often has extra percussion (agogo bells, bongos, woodblock, tambourine) in addition to her upbeat, complex drumming.

Opening track "The Conversation" ends up being a bit atypical for the band, as Aggs uses a bunch of distorted guitar. And it's the only song that uses distortion on the album. But the other elements of the song, with its high-speed hi-hat work and mid to low register second guitar and harmonized vocals, is a good representation of what Sacred Paws does. Aside from a noisy intro, that distorted guitar is mostly a background effect, while the cheery, active second guitar part functions as the lead instrument.

The second song "Almost It" picks up where "The Conversation" leaves off, with another bright, active guitar line and hi-hat and snare-heavy drums. But this time a second guitar is switched out for a horn section of trumpets and trombone. The horns provide accents and an instrumental riff between the verses, giving "Almost It" the feel of a ska song even though it lacks ska's signature syncopated, upstroke guitar. Rodgers also employs a lot of bongos and tambourine here, which heavily contributes to the song's tropical feel.

Sacred Paws features the horns a couple more times throughout the album, and they function as a great spice to their basic sound. "Life's Too Short" has hyperactive drums and a quick guitar line, with a midtempo vocal melody. Here the slow, warm horn chords work as a counterbalance to the high-speed stuff. It keeps the song on an even keel as the lyrics go from wistful to defiant on lines like, "I don't know what you want / And I don't care, no, life's too short." "Write This Down", on the other hand, keeps the tempo and energy level high but is one of the few instances of minor key on the album. The darker groove is a nice change of mood, as are the generally low-end horns. There is a lot of growling trombone here plus a significant bass guitar part.

At other times Rodgers and Aggs really work together on vocals. The duo has similar sounding voices and vocal ranges, which makes for a nice blend when they sing in harmony. "Shame on Me" uses woodblock and organ to give the song a distinct feel, but it's the two women trading lines and casually harmonizing that sells the song. "How Far" saves the harmonies for the refrain, but the track's laid back style helps make that refrain a big hook and easy sing-along. "Is This Real", on the other hand, layers the two voices all over the place. There are lines sung in unison that split into harmony and parts that echo before the first line is finished. It might be the most complex song vocally on the album, but it's also the fastest and shortest. It reminded me of '90s ska-punk act Dancehall Crashers, which also featured dual female vocalists with similar voices.

Run Around the Sun is an entertaining, enjoyable album from beginning to end. Stylistically Sacred Paws usually stick to uptempo, bright songs, but their basic sound is unusual enough that the similar-sounding songs aren't a detriment. Aggs' guitar style, which features a lot of nimble melodic lines and almost no chords, is pretty atypical for indie rock, but it pairs well with Rodgers' busy, creative drumming style. The two work extremely well together and it shows through their music.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.