Coat Of Arms
When Robin Hinkley found himself without a band (the other members of Good Laika were, as Hinkley put it, “all off procreating”) it forced him to give birth to his own project; his solo album recorded under the name Sharkness. Hinkley (formerly of Bleakhouse) retains his Kiwi accent when he sings. I like this. But this Kiwi doesn’t suffer clipped/stunted wings – there are times on Coat Of Arms when Hinkley’s voice soars, often in fact. Peter Pandemic will give you some clue as to how the sound is not entirely dissimilar to Good Laika and you can imagine the song This Is War would have been a centrepiece of a new Good Laika album. Similarly, closing track A Star Is Born hints to his old band also. Quirky lyrics and a mix of synth-pop confectionary and darker, brooding textures (often by way of producer Age Pryor and engineer Dr Lee Prebble) will please across multiple listens.
I wasn’t won over by this album on first listen – in fact I was sure (albeit prematurely) that none of the Good Laika magic was to be found here. But it really opens up – songs like Right Now have alternative pop-hit goodness about them (and Goodness too, it must be said). And then there are the electronica-by-bedsit low-key, lo-fi tracks that flit in and around the more obvious pop songs. I like it. It won’t change the world – but it might make your world a little bit nicer while you’re listening to it. And that’s never to be sniffed at, right?