Larrikin Love - The Freedom Spark

Georgie O'Toole 03/10/2006

Rating: 4/5

Concept. Album. Two little words that strike fear in the stony hearts of industry bigwigs and NME journos alike. In fact, so hated is the concept of a concept album, they're incredibly rare these days due to the stigma that seems to come with them. Artists who create concept albums are looked upon as pretentious, boring, up-themselves etc. and the albums are rarely revered.

Thank GOD then, that Larrikin Love couldn't care less about this, because The Freedom Spark, in all its conceptual glory, is the best album I've heard all year.

Part 1 of the album encompasses the theme of 'hate', and the introduction sets the tone perfectly. A wailing, moaning slice of what paranoia and fear would sound like if they were a piece of music, we are somehow thrown straight into the darkest depths of the human psyche in about 1 minute and 30 seconds. From here we are catapulted into 'Six Queens', easily one of the standout tracks of the album (though it has fierce competition). A rampant, Spanish-tinged adventure that sounds as if it should be played LOUD. What's noticeable at this point, is the atmosphere. We're two songs in and already Larrikin Love have pulled us into a world that is entirely their own. Third song 'Edwould' includes some lovely fiddling (seriously. And you better get used to it as it crops up in other parts of the album frequently.) and should be familiar to MTV2 fans as this was the band's first mainstream release. 'Downing St Kindling', a song about complete discontent with modern England ("I will build a fire in Westminster using the door of Downing Street") is up next, and followed by 'Happy As Annie', a musical extravaganza that sounds like it would be at home at a country hoedown and somehow still manages to work. 'Happy As Annie' is, in fact, another album highlight, and is the song that when played live causes nothing short of mass rioting. We are further caught off guard by the old fan favourite that is 'Meet Me At The Getaway Car', a slice of almost pure reggae until the third minute in which crashing guitars and drums disturb us from our chilled out listening slumber. This track stands out for its snappy lyrics: 'get a job, learn to dance, grow plants, hear fascist remarks and chants, wear velvet, walk the streets..' etc.

And before we know it we've reached Part 2: fairytale. Without even having to be told, a listener simply knows they're at a different phase. Comprised of only 1 song, 'Fell At The Feet of Rae' is a flight of pure whimsy and childhood innocence. It's an Irish fable of a song, if such a thing exists, and pure, sweet escapism.

The final part of the album, Freedom, opens with 'Well, Love Does Furnish A Life'. A fairly unremarkable song to begin with, but the contribution of Jamie T's vocals does seem to bring the song onto another level - perhaps only for the line 'guess someone had to be lost to really be found' which, in 10 words, sums up the whole idea of the album. 'On Sussex Downs' is one of those songs. You know the type. Starts off fairly straightforward, and you sit there thinking 'Hmm...yeah...this is ok. Sounds a bit like spiced up elevator music. Long instrumental....' but THEN it does just what you want and comes into it's own at after the aforementioned instrumental and becomes something that just begs you to listen to it again. 'Forever Untitled' is the penultimate track and is a slice of more conventional 'indie'. It would be quite at home on a Libertines album. Not a huge asset to the album, but nice enough. Thankfully its successor 'On a Burning Coast' is much better and a fantastic end to the album. Starting off moody and atmospheric, the song suddenly rockets forwards into a Six Queens/Happy As Annie combo-esque gypsy punk explosion before halting again and returning to its former slowness. And then it explodes again. And then it quietens down again. You get the idea. It's a fabulous track and the perfect way to end a fabulous album.

For a debut album from a young band (though fans would argue this album has been a long time coming) this is an outstanding feat. In fact, sod that, any band would be happy to call this their album no matter how established they are. The musical detail, if it can be called that, is impeccable, and every song feels lived in. That's a good thing, by the way - it's as if these songs are part of the band rather than a vehicle through which the band can present themselves to an adoring public. Larrikin Love are inviting us into their world, transporting us to a land of pain, fear, innocence, love and freedom, and deserve the utmost admiration and respect for what they have achieved with 'The Freedom Spark'. Everyone who really loves music should own this album.