Review Summary: Sacred Paws’ second outing is a bouncy slice of indie pop that will make anyone want to get up and dance.
Snap judgements are rarely good. At least I’d like to think so, older and (debatably) wiser. But it wasn’t like that when I was younger. Hell, when I was younger, snap judgements pretty much were my go-to, as far as decision-making was concerned. And one of those awful, awful decisions I made back then was that twee pop was going to rule the world one day, and that I was going to listen to nothing but twee ‘til the day I die so I could stay ahead of the curve.
Years later and I think it’s safe to say that none of that really panned out. But for a while there, I actually believed that it was the sound of the future. That’s just how powerful snap judgements can be. Since then, I’d like to think that I’ve moved past impulses like that. After getting my heart broken time and time again, it would be for the best to think everything through from here on out. Yessir, like a robot: methodical and precise to a fault. Only looking at life (and music) through an “objective lens.”
But when you come across an album like Run Around the Sun, one that is so self-assured in its happiness and joy, that flimsy “objective lens” melts like chocolate in your palm. For context, I discovered Sacred Paws (a duo from Glasgow, by the way) from Spotify if you could believe it. Just a random suggestion by an algorithm on a streaming site I rarely use these days. I was drawn in by the fairly interesting album cover and decided to give it a quick spin. No reason, no thought. Just a snap judgement on my part. And here I am now, writing this review whilst bobbing my head madly to some of the most upbeat, deceptively-simple indie pop I’ve heard all year. Aided by producer (and Glasgow native) Tony Doogan and a small group playing backup instruments, Sacred Paws have perfected a sound that’s all theirs for the taking.
Opener “The Conversation” hits you immediately with a wonderful blast of guitar/bass (both courtesy of Rachel Aggs) and drums (done by Eilidh Rodgers). The danceable beat paired with wonderful dual-female vox makes for a downright infectious combination. And that same energy follows throughout the entire album thankfully. The run from “Life’s Too Short” to “What’s So Wrong” is just stellar. The entire A-side of Run Around the Sun is like a shot of espresso to the ears, to the point where those unprepared might just get lost in the sheer energy Sacred Paws exudes on these tracks.
While admittedly not as strong, the B-side of the album is no slouch for sure. Earlier I described Run Around the Sun as “deceptively-simple,” and that’s because the lyrics here are actually not as rosy as the music might suggest. Take the penultimate track “Brush Your Hair,” a perfect example of this juxtaposition:
“When the seasons change, it makes me think of you.”
“Everything is changing, but nothing's new.”
If there was one gripe I had about the album, it would be the inclusion of the brass and woodwinds. Every so often, in the otherwise perfect mix of drums, guitar, synth, and keys Sacred Paws have going here, there’s a trumpet toot-toot-tooting away or a trombone blaring a bit too eagerly. While it’s nothing that takes away from the songs, I think they were a bit of an unnecessary addition. If anything, it’s a testament to how much I enjoyed the other aspects of the album that I wanted to hear more of Rodgers and Aggs stellar instrumentation and vocals.
Of course I know twee isn’t going to conquer the world anytime soon. And I know indie had its time in the sun a long time ago and I’m just a bit stuck in my delusions. But despite knowing now how ridiculous my old twee pop prediction was, a part of me tucked away deep down hears Run Around the Sun and makes my heart skip a beat. What started as just a quick decision to check a machine-recommended album without any real reason became one of my favorite albums of 2019. I’m not sure I’m ready to pull a “Yes Man” (that one Jim Carrey movie/vehicle) and change my outlook about snap decision-making completely, but damn does finding this make a very good argument for it.