Larrikin Love - The Freedom Spark
Lets be honest, you don't much more "indie" sounding than Larrikin Love. This is an album of short guitar burst songs, full of vigour, random breaks into ska and an album cover shot that sees the band, ruddy of cheek, sitting and standing around a nice tree. There is even a stuffed fox and owl in the photo. But here in the UK we've had a belly-full of indie this year. Bands of the calibre of Mystery Jets have already released albums packed with invention and fantastic songs. The Kooks have cleaned up at the more traditional song end of the market. Larrikin Love fall somewhere in-between these two styles, but whilst they try to be different and more eclectic, it just sounds very, well, very indie.
It starts with a slow, brooding build-up, leading into Six Queens, full of spikey guitars and a fast, aggressive beat. Singer Edward Larrikin sings of a symphony in my heart amid a melody that switches from traditional indie to a more exotic Eastern flavour. Previous single EdWould is full of furious fiddles, a real knees up of a song, dipping into the chorus and launching back to life for its climax.
Downing Street Kindling though is a curious song, with lyrics that may have been reactionary and fashionable some 20 years ago but sounding now rather clichéd and predictable. Chorus "England has nothing more to offer me, everything that I adore came well before 1984" just sound quaint and rather a hollow sentiment (considering how much crap existed both before and after his favoured year). The guitar solo (such as it is) sounds rather desperate before switching to a ska beat. Happy As Annie, also a single, is the poorest of the three, a country banjo and fiddle failing to set the track alight amid the thump and pummel of drums.
Highlight of the album for me is Well, Love Does Furnish a Life, which musically takes a lead from Rubber Ring by The Smiths, with an excellent female backing vocal for the chorus. However, this track is somewhat of an exception, the rest of the album following a similar sound and pattern. Whereas Mystery Jets filled their album with ideas and passion, a lot of this release does sound the same.
The Freedom Spark is not a bad album. It is short and sweet, barely 35 minutes long. As a collection of songs, there is much of merit, but not enough variation to cause it to stand out from the rest.