Before listening to A Larum, it's worth noting that the album's cover is misleading as far as giving credit where it's due. Despite being under the name of vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and lyricist Johnny Flynn, it would be unfair to deem this as a solo effort, given that he is the frontman for the South London folk group the Sussex Wit. The band is a collection of talented individuals in their own right, and they do more on A Larum than simply providing an aural backdrop for Flynn's witticisms. Rather, it quickly becomes clear that the Wit's intricate, meandering rhythms and melodies are a fitting complement to Flynn's straightforward delivery, augmenting lyrics that would also function as poetry outside of a musical setting. Songs such as "Tickle Me Pink" demand active listening (especially when lines like "Tickle me pink and rosy as a flushed red apple skin/Except I've never been as sweet" float by on breezily mischievous melodies), and such playfulness is hardly an anomaly here. In fact, it's far more rare to find tunes on A Larum that don't quite hit the mark, though slower numbers like "Brown Trout Blues" do have a tendency to drag. Fortunately, the bulk of the album is geared toward both Flynn's and the Wit's strengths -- gently rollicking tunes, engaging lyrics, warm vocal harmonies (courtesy of percussionist Matt Edmonds and Lillie Flynn), and well-timed instrumental interludes featuring horns (Johnny Flynn, Johnathan Salzman), strings (Johnny Flynn once again, with Joe Zeitlin), and the occasional pair of spoons (thanks to Artis the "Spoonman"). The tangible intimacy between Flynn and his group makes A Larum not only an introduction, but also captures the gentle, amicable nature that makes them such an inviting and satisfying listen.
AllMusic Review by Katherine Fulton