‘The Freedom Spark’ is by no means Larrikin Love’s masterpiece and ‘Perfection’ isn’t too far away...
Sherief Younis
16:13 28th September 2006

Initially (lazily) tagged as an alternative to The Libertines, Larrikin Love have come out fighting and ‘The Freedom Spark’, split into it’s three respective parts, showcases their ability to alter their musical style as much as Ed Larrikin changes his haircut.  Sure there’s an essence of Libertine but if Pete Doherty was the dirty, city rat then Ed Larrikin is his countrified nemesis and his influence as an eloquent city poet is a prevalent one.  An album comfortable inhabiting familiar territory to that of Dexys Midnight Runners and The Pogues, it’s hard not to be smitten with ‘The Freedom Spark’ for its organic musical influences, Larrikin’s talismanic presence and the disheveled gypsy imagery it so effortlessly conveys.

Cameo’s from similarly trampish troubadours Jamie T and Patrick Wolf give the album an additional contemporary sheen and put paid to any initial impressions that Larrikin Love are an imitation of anybody. Did we mention it’s a concept album?  Split into three part’s ‘Hate’ ‘Fairytale’ and ‘Freedom’ it’s not quite the epic, operatic extravaganza the word conjures but more a breathlessly stop/start collection of singles neatly packaged in a little over thirty minutes.

‘Six Queens’ begins the ‘Hate’ section with few pleasantries as it kicks with a driving, dark pirate rhythm; it’s taut, intense and infused with the spirit of The Coral’s ‘Skeleton Key’.  The anthemic ’Edwould’ sees LL at their imminently catchy best and without delving into the lyrical content you could be forgiven for thinking it was a bit misplaced in the ‘Hate’ section.  The light hearted Dexys fiddle and Ed Larrikins bungling delivery give it an upbeat rag time atmosphere which is almost impossible to dislike.  ’Downing St Kindling’ sees a vitriolic critique of our beloved soon to be deposed PM with Ed particularly disillusioned as ‘England has nothing more to offer me’ rings clear amidst similar sentiment whilst the re-recorded ’Happy As Annie’ with it’s playful, plucked banjo and familiarly garbled delivery - as if Ed’s mouth cant keep up with the rate of his thoughts - once again belies the true crux of his troubles as the charm of the music overshadows all.  This isn’t a criticism by any means because if anything it only enhances longevity; once you’ve recovered from the incessant jumping and dancing you can then collapse in a state of melancholic exhaustion and contemplative analysis of what the boy’s really trying to say.

’Fairytale’ passes with the fleeting ‘Fell at the Feet of Rae’ that doesn’t seem to have much of a place and although the ‘Freedom’ section doesn’t have the single fodder of ‘Hate’ it’s nonetheless a brave and at times beautiful attempt of grandeur climaxing in the restless, discontented shanty of ‘On A Burning Coast’.  Flitting between ragged folk punk and some meandering arrangements it’s one of many indications that ‘The Freedom Spark’ is by no means Larrikin Love’s masterpiece and ‘Perfection’ isn’t too far away.

More about: