Larkin Poe – Kin review

LarkinPoe_RH Music_StandingEdgar Allen Poe had a distant cousin, Larkin Poe, whose great, great, great, great granddaughters – sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell – have a debut album, Kin, out on August 25th. The duo’s paternal grandfather’s dealings with schizophrenia allegedly influence their style, accompanied with the famous Poe’s creative genius subsequent of a tortured mind, hence why the pair’s name takes influence from their heritage. “Growing up with their crazy stories definitely shaded our perception of normal. As artists, I think some of those innate eccentricities, passed down from generation to generation, have been even further exaggerated in us!” explains Megan. Rebecca, younger of the two and lead vocalist, describes their family history as “very colourful” – much the same could be said for this release, with its wide variety of influences and hard-to-pin-down style.

The ska-blues opening of Jailbreak mixes with intriguing vocal work to create an enthralling welcome to a magnificent album. Vocally, the pair can only be described as having all the addictive charm of a bog-standard girl-band (the likes of Little Mix), the gravelly undertones and overlaying fluency of Nina Persson (The Cardigans) and the alluring resolve of Greta Valenti (Well Hung Heart), creating a unique and infectious sound. Impossibly contagious hooks are present throughout, and when they’re not the focus of the track, the spectacular instrumental is.

It’s almost impossible to choose a favourite off this record, but the switch between the grunge chords that begin the track and the sing-a-long chorus of emancipating lyrics (don’t try to lie / don’t try to tell me /don’t try to buy me / don’t try to sell me), supported with impressively controlled backing, makes it impossible not to love second track, Don’t. The assertive-independent attitude told through the lyrics only hints at the passion the duo hold for what they create – nothing could be accidentally this brilliant, there’s been a lot of time put into each song off the record.

Impossibly soft and high vocals form one of the tracks they had to battle through sibling rivalry to create – Megan describes the piece as “a love song we wrote to each other”. The feather-weight vocals of Stubborn Love are set against a backdrop of delicate instrumental, ever-changing to suit the pace of the lyrics. Fourth track, Dandelion, opens with almost spooky vocals, stating, “dearly beloved, we are gathered here to say goodbye, to that girl in the coffin over there”, before the definite beat kicks in and drives the rest of the track forward. The deadpan vocals speak matter-of-fact-ly about the inevitable, and the clear vocals of the chorus continue the theme, showcasing their dexterity.

Crown Of Fire combines soft vocals with very simplistic acoustic guitar to open the track, but after the vocals take a grittier turn, the track builds up to a powerful, driving chorus, subsequently dropping and lifting again with an impressive skill. Almost synthesised vocals welcome Elephant, and the emancipating, staccato vocals of the verse contrast with a chorus bound to induce crowd-participation. The tracks closes with a beat that edges of tribal. adding a smothering intensity to the cliche, “elephant in the room”.

Dark and subtle instrumental plays its part in High Horse, taking a backseat again to allow the vocals to lead the track. A more complex and colourful backdrop supports swagger-filled vocals of Sugar High, creating a track which overall holds a huskier and powerful sound. The layered vocals come back to play their part in Jesse, with a comforting, steadily paced track displaying a more mellowed-out side to the album, which continues into Banks Of Allatoona, with simple, vaguely electric instrumental blending with liquid, layered vocal work.

The opening of We Intertwine is solely driven by the vocal work, not backing down to the instrumental that only really brings itself in at the chorus, creating a powerful and personal track before the most moving song off the album, closing Overachiever. Rebecca speaks of the track, saying, “I tried to channel the raw honesty of Leonard Cohen with this song; I needed to sing the words of this song for myself, and also for a number of people close to me.” Megan adds, “When Rebecca sang ‘Overachiever’ in the studio, it was at the end of the evening and we had turned all of the lights in the studio off. She knocked it out in one take, and by the end, I was crying. That’s how personal it really was.” The simplistic piano ballad is unavoidably powerful, and there couldn’t be a better way to close the album.

It’s not hard to see why this album is one of my personal favourites from this year; they state themselves that people have a hard time classifying their music – perhaps what makes this duo so refreshing, with their mixed influences and captivating sound. A must listen for anyone who appreciates good music.

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