Elektra

Though Manchester’s Pooka has the distinction of having been dubbed “the folk answer to riot grrrl” by NME, the description is not especially apt. It’s awfully hard to be militant when your band is named after anything as cute as the naughty elf who’s a staple of Irish folklore. And even when the duo’s lyrics are explicit—“Put your head between my knees, come up for air if you need to breathe”—they’re still polite. Pooka’s off-kilter cadence and phrasing owes a lot to Joni Mitchell, and the pair’s lyrics, when they aren’t trippy free-associations, display downright traditional folkie sensibilities (“It’s so easy to be greedy,” they lament in the album’s opener, “City Sick”). Pooka‘s spare instrumentation—most often vocals are accompanied only by acoustic guitar—and the interplay of Natasha Jones’ and Sharon Lewis’ dissimilar voices give the duo considerable charm.