Sunday, 26 April 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: King Creosote - Flick the Vs

Shooting from the hip’s never been Kenny Anderson’s game. Over the breadth of his decade-spanning career, the Fife-born troubadour - better known as King Creosote and the founder of Scotland’s most celebrated label, Fence Records - has always exuded an air of emotive reticence in his music; smothering ardency in romantic soliloquy and creaky melody. Sure, he’s occasionally offered moments of volcanic aplomb, yet they were often lost in a daze of awkward indecision and crippling embarrassment.

But that was then. Today’s Kenny Anderson is a very different proposition.

New LP Flick the Vs may prove he’s still shitting out records like a lactose-intolerant mouse in a creamery but here, instead of ruing life’s tribulations through a slew apologetic mumbles, Anderson’s confronting hurdles with undeterred assertiveness. The proof lies in the record’s title: a provocative statement of intent that’s both jovial and menacing, conjuring images of a youthful dissidence that belies his years. Somewhere along the line, Kenny Anderson’s grown a set of balls - and he likes it.

His persuasive mantra is apparent from the off. Opener ‘No One Had It Better’ (originally presented on last year’s, tour only, They Flock Like Vultures…) begins with a muffled vocoder din that eventually erupts as a spewing of snare and synth, while Anderson bellows “If you want it, you can have it” with scathing, indefatigable purpose. It’s an outstanding battle cry for an album that shifts away from King Creosote of yore. Rather than the staple diet of accordion-swaying balladry, Flick The Vs devours effects boards and washes it down with gulps of ambitious, anathema pop.

‘Camels Swapped for Wives’ epitomises this dogmatic pathway. Here, Anderson spits and cusses across a funeral march of drum that eventually evolves as a purified, deep-cleansing tear-jerker in which Anderson finally achieves emancipation. And it’s this sort of unexpected twist that makes Flick The Vs such a beguiling listen. Frenetic cuts like distorted key-guzzler ‘Coast On By’ or the pulsing heartbeat of ‘Fell An Ox’ rest ornamentally beside ‘Nothing Rings True’’s acoustic strums without ever stepping out of sync; their contradictory nature subtly attuned to the composer’s spiky disposition.

For those coveting the familiar, Anderson’s falsetto crow takes flight over the string-strewn notes of album closer ‘Saw Circular Prowess’ and ‘Curtain Craft’’s creaky waltz. But in the context of an album swilling with insistence, their diffident flutters pale meekly, particularly when compared to the rollicking ‘Rims’. A master class in arrangement, the track begins with Anderson declaring”I am the worst” over gun-slinging skiffle and puffing squeezebox, before transcending as euphoric brass-wielding calypso that culminates in an exhillerating finale of scattergun electronica.

But as ingenious as ‘Rims’ is, ‘No Way She Exists” ska-infused tremor will be what lights Flick the Vs’ blue touch paper with Creosote-ites old and new. More in keeping with KC Rules OK’s bulbous rollicks, Anderson sets sails with a geographical assessment of agreeable females (”Maybe a girl from the West, could be they really are the best”) before a whirlpool of trumpet and guitar writhes in tandem with tumid mandolins. It’s a veracious blast, both in song and lyric, and a track that crowns the most consistent and ambitious King Creosote recording to date.

He may not be shooting from the hip just yet, but Kenny Anderson’s certainly acquired the gift of the gab.

First published here at The Line of Best Fit

1 comment:

Ellis said...

Yes Great Article, I like it allot, and being a Michael Jackson fan, I dont say that about many articles that are not by the king of pop music!
Good article.