Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Larsen & Furious Jane - Zen Sucker (* * * * 1/2)

Larsen & Furious Jane are most likely the best thing to ever have emerged from the Denmark music scene. Easy for me to say, outside of Aqua and the Raveonettes, I haven't had any exposure to Danish music, but the band's third album, Zen Sucker is an absolute stunner and one of the year's best. The group, started by friends Torsten Larsen and Tore Johansen, has received critical acclaim in their homeland and with any luck, they'll break on through to the U.S. side soon.

I realize that Radiohead comparisons are often an obvious/lazy way to describe a band, and while Zen Sucker doesn't exactly sound like OK Computer, the album is compelling and fascinating in the way that Radiohead's albums always have been. The lyrics have a dark edge, similar to Yorke's, and though the music is sometimes deceptively warm and inviting, the beautiful melodies always seem underlined by an almost menacing feeling. Also, while the band experiment with a variety of sounds and effects, it's never at the expense of the music itself, resulting in a thoroughly captivating listen.

Larsen & Furious Jane's ability to create so much diversity while maintaining a sense of unity and connection between the songs is what makes Zen Sucker such an impressive and interesting record. "The People Person Is A Zen Sucker" and "A Car That Comes With The Job" have a sparse, yet delicate background for the clear tenor vocals (Larsen, I think) and bitter lyrics. On other, heavier tracks like "A Deathbed Conversion," "Snakes In The Grass" and especially "Vietnamese Pool Boy," the tone becomes considerably more sinister while Larsen channels dramatic singers like Ian Curtis and Interpol's Paul Banks. It's a wonderfully strange ride, one you'll hate to have come to an end after the gorgeous, haunting closer "Forbidden Fruit."

Zen Sucker unfortunately does not have a scheduled U.S. release date, though I do have one of my favorite tracks ("A Deathbed Conversion") here for download and their MySpace has a few more to check out. I'm interested to know what you think about these guys; if you like what you hear, send me a note and I'll put in a good word to see if we can generate some interest.

A Deathbed Conversion (MP3) [Once again, if you're having trouble playing this in the browser, just click on the link to download the song or play it outside this window]


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