Initially (lazily) tagged as an alternative to The Libertines, Larrikin Love have come out fighting and â€˜The Freedom Sparkâ€™, split into itâ€™s three respective parts, showcases their ability to alter their musical style as much as Ed Larrikin changes his haircut. Sure thereâ€™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, itâ€™s hard not to be smitten with â€˜The Freedom Sparkâ€™ for its organic musical influences, Larrikinâ€™s talismanic presence and the disheveled gypsy imagery it so effortlessly conveys.
Cameoâ€™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 itâ€™s a concept album? Split into three partâ€™s â€˜Hateâ€™ â€˜Fairytaleâ€™ and â€˜Freedomâ€™ itâ€™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.
â€˜Six Queensâ€™ begins the â€˜Hateâ€™ section with few pleasantries as it kicks with a driving, dark pirate rhythm; itâ€™s taut, intense and infused with the spirit of The Coralâ€™s â€˜Skeleton Keyâ€™. The anthemic â€™Edwouldâ€™ 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 â€˜Hateâ€™ section. The light hearted Dexys fiddle and Ed Larrikins bungling delivery give it an upbeat rag time atmosphere which is almost impossible to dislike. â€™Downing St Kindlingâ€™ sees a vitriolic critique of our beloved soon to be deposed PM with Ed particularly disillusioned as â€˜England has nothing more to offer meâ€™ rings clear amidst similar sentiment whilst the re-recorded â€™Happy As Annieâ€™ with itâ€™s playful, plucked banjo and familiarly garbled delivery - as if Edâ€™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 isnâ€™t a criticism by any means because if anything it only enhances longevity; once youâ€™ve recovered from the incessant jumping and dancing you can then collapse in a state of melancholic exhaustion and contemplative analysis of what the boyâ€™s really trying to say.
â€™Fairytaleâ€™ passes with the fleeting â€˜Fell at the Feet of Raeâ€™ that doesnâ€™t seem to have much of a place and although the â€˜Freedomâ€™ section doesnâ€™t have the single fodder of â€˜Hateâ€™ itâ€™s nonetheless a brave and at times beautiful attempt of grandeur climaxing in the restless, discontented shanty of â€˜On A Burning Coastâ€™. Flitting between ragged folk punk and some meandering arrangements itâ€™s one of many indications that â€˜The Freedom Sparkâ€™ is by no means Larrikin Loveâ€™s masterpiece and â€˜Perfectionâ€™ isnâ€™t too far away.