From fronting Sky Larkin to performing backing vocals for Dua Lipa on Saturday Night Live via touring as a live member of Sleater-Kinney and in Courtney Barnett’s band, Katie Harkin has become a master collaborator over the past decade and a half. The pandemic changed all that. Cooped up in the titular one bedroom flat above a pub, her second solo album was pieced together with scant contributors sending snippets over the internet. This new process has led to a new palette of sounds. Gone is the slacker indie of her self-titled debut - the electronics that punctuated it are now front and centre. Opener ‘Body Clock’ combines math rock bass with Four Tet-style arpeggios, while ‘Matchless Lighting’ builds from a minimalist synth to a tremolo crescendo, and ‘Listening Out’ throbs with a dubstep-style wobble. Guitars haven’t disappeared completely though, and ‘(Give Me) The Streets Of Leeds’ and ‘A New Day’ are a reminder of why Katie has become one of the most sought-after touring musicians. The final 11 minutes of the album are the most striking of all: ‘Driving Down A Flight Of Stairs’ is a droning synth soundscape that crackles and glitches as it sways between beauty and dread. It’s a captivating palette cleanser. After years of collaborating, Katie Harkin is proving she has plenty to say on her own terms.
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