King Creosote is still living on the marie celeste that is Crail in north east Fife, and has returned to the good ship Domino for the release of his umpteenth long player Flick the Vs. When asked of his three year mainstream sabbatical, KC had this rather fishy tale to tell...
"If KC rules OK was the sunny and relaxed outcome of spending an afternoon with the Earlies, paddling about in the rock pools of Morecambe, breeks rolled up to the knees, a net in one hand and a plastic pail full of small crabs in the other, then Bombshell felt like a month aboard a modern trawler out near Norwegian waters under the command of new skipper Jon Hopkins, yellow sou'westers and oilskins to fore and aft, battling the elements to fill our quotas of haddock and bream. In comparison, Flick the Vs was to have been a Sunday night's angling off the main pier in Anstruther, but it didn't turn out quite so tranquil. This time around skipper Paul Savage sent the Earlies out whaling near Iceland, whilst the Fence boys took a small rowing boat onto Loch Awe for a spot of salmon poaching. Steve Mason himself pulled up a couple of creels out there by the end of the sewage pipe, whilst Hopkins just had to make do with the purchase of a packet of scampi fries to eat whilst sunbathing on the railway platform at Ladybank."
Sounds like someone's been out in the midday sun without their factor 15. Thankfully, first mate the Pictish Trail aka Johnny Lynch has kept his sunstroke in check, and has a few things to say of 'flick the Vs'.
PT: Album opener No One Had It Better starts with a misleadingly quiet Tubeway Army-esque vocoder intro, inviting the listener to turn up the volume dial, and up further still... A thuddering bass drum, rolling toms and a biting snare soon cracks in to transform the song into a soaring seven minute krautrock epic that relentlessly builds and builds.
KC: It's a mantric response to all those accusations of "sell out", and as such draws on familiar themes from 'KC rules OK'.
PT: KC's plaintive vocal and signature accordion summon Two Frocks At a Wedding, suggesting a more straightforward ballad - but 20 seconds in and 80's drum machines and synths hover over with stark menace, making way for an unashamedly funk bassline to parade its way through. It's Reproduction-era Human League meets Station to Station Bowie that even manages to pack in a highland bagpipe-sampling hip hop coda.
KC: Cross-dressing, wedding kilts, small town homophobia... it's all in here.
PT: Camels Swapped For Wives centres around KC's vocal - a croaky slap-back drawl that clears its throat with a breath-drawing "fuck" before crooning into an irresistible lilting falsetto. Lennon-drenched piano teeters you over the edge for the eyes closed heart wrenchingly anthemic chorus that'll have you gritting teeth and smiling back tears.
KC: The effects of mental illness on the whole family, as it happens.
PT: Barking two-tone brass and a pounding hammer dulcimer feature on the buoyant Earlies-driven No Way She Exists. Mysterious electronic whistling and KC's vocal float over and above the swell of guitars and scuffing mandolin.
KC: Misogyny from all directions of the compass!
PT: The delicately ambient Fell An Ox softly hints at instruments brushing past your ear until KC sweeps them together so that they pop and fizz into a percussive lullaby, a solitary fuzzed up Casio provides a short melody while waves of piano slowly swell and hush.
KC: Unwanted attentions.
PT: Conversely Coast On By rasps with an angry electro-bass synth breaking into a Dexy's infused Motown stomp; imagine Kevin Rowland fronting Hot Chip and you're close!
KC: There's times when you can't face leaving the house let alone taking the Anstruther road west out of the village.
PT: A mumbled "shit" opens the ethereal Nothing Rings True; KC, acoustic guitar aloft, finds himself up to his waist in a sea of sound, wading through layers of distorted feedback, dictaphone echo, and sparse piano motifs recalling the dislocated textures of Talk Talk's ‘Spirit Of Eden'.
KC: This was an experiment in not listening to each other, playing cards and two timing.
PT: Meanwhile the melancholic wheeze of Curtain Craft with its pleading waltz, undeniably beautiful xylophone and smirking mathematical stabs of brass, shares a solemn sincerity with early Everything But The Girl. Simplicity reigns supreme here - the mere addition of accordion in the second verse following the vocal melody for arguably the most gorgeous moment of the album.
KC: In a song involving nosey neighbours I've used a few musical tricks to mimic the twitching of curtains.
PT: Rims is a different beast altogether - a bluegrass shuffle turned Broadway showtune with its self-deprecating yet oddly chirpy refrains of ‘I am the worst' and ‘let me remind you/that you have a menu'. Cajun accordion dances over skiffled drums that morph into electronic snares until it becomes full on, unadulterated techno.
KC: A rejection from the village bike will have long reaching and cruel repercussions in later life I fear.
PT: Album closer Saw Circular Prowess is a gargantuan epic of Moz proportions - cymbals splash and strop, strings glide and swoon, with piano and bass brooding over it all. KC's falsetto cuts an ominous character (‘does it hurt less over there?') and persists as the song builds heavily, never threatening to cut away early, eyes fixed and Vs flicked.
KC: Vile language - bile, ulcers, acid, vinegar - are embroidered onto a proggy cape.
PT & KC: this new album, played loud, should have KC fans jumping around in their waders and giving two fingered salutes to whomever passes the window.
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ON THE SITE
This band is a collaboration with Fence Collective.