Sacred Paws – Run Around The Sun (4 stars)

Sacred Paws: Run Around the Sun

Rich and rewarding follow-up to their SAY Award winning debut album

The arrival of this second album by Glasgow-based duo Sacred Paws, winners of the Scottish Album of the Year Award in 2017 for debut Strike a Match, feels like a brisk return from a group who are clearly under a reasonable amount of pressure to get things right after the increased attention which has now fallen upon them. Yet nor does anything about this record feel unduly bashed out or rushed; clearly, Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers aren't just a skilled pop songwriting team, but they're also a remarkably efficient one.

That this album is here just in time for summer is a good thing, because the music which fills it feels like it was made to be listened to in the sunshine. Aggs' guitar lines skip and prowl impatiently around the songs, bearing all those previously remarked-upon highlife influences, but also a dose of early-90s shoegaze and indie-pop's aesthetic. In 'What's So Wrong', for example, there are swirls of reverb painting vivid pictures over Rodgers' rattling drum fills, while in the swooning but urgent opener 'The Conversation' there are heavy hints of the Cure; it's no wonder Sacred Paws have found a home on Mogwai's Rock Action label.

This is a record of no great stylistic leaps, but rather a solid commitment to get everything as right as the pair managed last time, while expanding upon the sheer artisan craft of what they do. It's hard to understate their seemingly effortless ability for sculpting something of the perfect pop experience in every song, such as the upbeat revoking of anxiety in the brass-surfing 'Life's Too Short' or the taut harmonies and urgent lyricism of 'Write This Down', a far-distant cousin of the Stones Roses' spectral funk.

Throughout, Aggs writes words not for love songs but relationship songs, their lyrics (like 'Shame On Me's 'shame on me / this was meant to be forever', surfing the line between contrition and sarcasm) fusing a sense of realism with joy in human contact. Their return is rich in rewarding emotional depths, but they make it all sound so easy.

Out Fri 31 May on Rock Action.

Sacred Paws

Post-punk and Afro-pop influences.