Thursday, 23 June 2011

Runaround Kids - 'Linked Arms' Review

Runaround Kids
Linked Arms
Philophobia Music

Runaround Kids, in case you weren’t aware, are from Wakefield and have been spearheading Philophobia Music’s charge towards Alt-Indie DIY label saintdom for about a year now. RKs released their debut EP in August 2009 but it all really came together just 12 months ago when they won the normally Leeds-Centric Futuresound competition to play at the Leeds & Reading Festival. A 7” followed in September and since then they have been busying themselves, along with Spills singer / guitarist Rob Slater on production duties, in creating this, their debut album.

At 10 tracks, with only one passing the 3 and a half minute mark (by 16 seconds) it’s a brief, blistering affair that cleverly plays to their strengths as a live act. Despite its short, set like length there’s plenty going on here with a lot of thought going into the dynamics and structure. An album is a difficult thing to get right, but essentially they have nailed it first go. There’s a lot of one off breaks, unexpected turns and sudden jolts. It’s full of tricks, but not tricksy, instead revelling in every vital second.

Musically it’s hard to pin point. I hear the DNA of a generation of Wakefield bands pulsing through its edgy pop hooks, post hardcore despair and melodic sprawl. Yet it’s something new. Jack and Rob’s rhythm section could happily sit alongside many Wakefield greats such as Dugong or Pylon, yet it’s George’s idiosyncratic guitar with its impatient approach to dynamics - every note played with a freshness that suggests the joy of invention when you first hit upon a killer riff in your bedroom - that adds the extra spark. As a three piece they compliment one another sublimely and it’s this interaction that keeps your attention to very end.

Highlights are the simplistic but uber catchy ‘Cant Lose Lover’, the best example here of a soundtrack to a youthful summer spent wasting, whilst the stuttering guitar explosions that populate the verse of ‘Cut Yr Losses’ and the joyous crescendo 2 minutes in of ‘Last July’ sees the ADD approach to song length and structure come together with breathtakingly confident brevity. The band has built on the things that made them so interesting in the first place; the duel vocals work fantastically, and the chanted choruses, especially on the unfortunately titled ‘Wont Fuck Her Sober’ (which humorously has perhaps the catchiest chorus of the record) document the passion of youth with great style.

Negative points? Well, though the briefness of the record is no bad thing, it is a shame to hear previous single ‘Falling Into Better Hands’ make a reappearance. Fair enough – it is one of their hookiest tunes and sits on the album perfectly. Just, for the fans who already have the 7”, it’s a bit of a shame. Another newbie would’ve been nice.

As it is, “Linked Arms” is a perfect document of who and what Runaround Kids are right now. You can’t ask more from a debut record. Yet they give more, and despite my comparisons to a live set, this isn’t all noise and bluster; it is a brilliantly paced set of songs. Gentler moments ‘A Way That Works’ and the wistful close of ‘I Tried’ showing a greater emotional spectrum that you would care to expect from a band, collectively, not even in their 20’s yet. I’m too old and cynical but if, in ten years time someone told me that Linked Arms had been the soundtrack to their summer of 2011, spent drinking in parks, skating and starting a band then I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.

Dean Freeman

Linked Arms is released August 8th.
The album is launched at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on August 6th

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