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Musketeer
Larsen B Musketeer
Released 5 July 2010
Producer Nigel Walton
Label Old Radio Tunes
Length 38:23
Genre Alternative
Website myspace.com/wearelarsenb
85

The album art of Musketeer is 'The Peaceable Kingdom' by Edward Hicks, painted in a pre-industrial America. It’s a religious, pastoral fantasia depicting the lion lying down with the lamb. On one hand it’s a benign Christian arcadia, on the other it’s a symbol of consoling security. As such, it’s apt for a group who have created an album of rustic homespun, which emits such a strong sense of contentment that you feel as though you’ve accidentally pried into someone else’s life and found it to be a lot more relaxing than your own.

Musketeer is akin to being handed an album made by a friend; an album that you only listen to because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, but are amazed that it’s actually good. A lot of this appeal comes from the homely atmosphere maintained during the eleven tracks (a homeliness reinforced by the fact that their postman plays accordion and harmonica with the band); but a great deal comes from the ‘harmlessness’ of the music.

That’s not intended as an insult. ‘Harmless’ has become a euphemism for ‘ineffectual’, as though to be harmful is the only way to have an impact: as though all impacts must do harm. But Larsen B manage to make their presence felt without leaving a nasty aftertaste. This album is filled with the echoes of The Beatles ('Robots Learn To Love') and Talking Heads ('Marilyn'), but lacks their egotism. 'Drown By The Sea' effects the kind of mid-song zig-zagging typical of Queen or Captain Beefheart, but does so in a dreamy, meandering way. 'Red Indians And Witches' sounds like Berlin’s 17 Hippies but has none of the arch, avant-garde trappings.

To emulate such quality whilst divesting it of its venom produces an album that warms. The fifth track, 'The Gold Cup', is the soundtrack to a carefree cycle ride on a nice day– which may sound like small beer until you admit, even if only to yourself, that a carefree cycle ride on a nice day is something any truly intelligent soul appreciates. This is not to say that Musketeer is not challenging. It’s just that the challenge it poses is not yet another aggressive salvo of knowing misanthropy. The challenge here is, oddly enough, the same as that posed by Marcus Eoin and Mike Sandison with their fruitful Boards of Canada project:

Enjoy your own life for what it is. Then, even if only in your mind, the lion will lie down with the lamb.

- Paul McGranaghan