The veteran indie auteur has made a charming record which will please existing fans and gain a few new ones
Pete Astor has been an influential, yet occasionally overlooked, songwriter and musician since the early 1980s when his band The Loft were one of the first signings of Creation Records. His work as a solo artist and a member of groups such as The Weather Prophets and The Wisdom Of Harry has spanned decades and genres.
He now returns with new record Spilt Milk, a back to basics effort with all the classic Astor hallmarks and a stark contrast to his recent experimental noodling with Ellis Island Sound. A welcome combination of jangling guitars, dry observations and a keen melodic ear permeates through the entire album. Lo-fi buoyancy provides a musical partner for deadpan humour on songs such as My Right Hand and Very Good Lock – the latter a drum-machined ode to erectile dysfunction.
From the opening strum of Really Something, it is obvious why Astor, in all incarnations, is such an influence on the UK indie scene. There is sweetness and charm to the record; an English eccentric’s take on Doug Yule-era Velvet Underground. Fans of Robyn Hitchcock and Stuart Murdoch will find a kindred spirit here. The gloomy There It Goes shifts the tone slightly, adding extra atmosphere and allowing him to showcase another side to his writing.
This is an album which will please fans of Astor’s work with The Loft and The Weather Prophets, but it is also a perfect entry point for anyone late to the party. As both a standalone record and an addition to his exemplary body of work, Spilt Milk is a subtle treasure.
Verdict: A welcome return to basics, and form