Pete Astor - Spilt Milk - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Pete Astor - Spilt Milk

by Kevin Orton Rating:10 Release Date:2016-01-08

I’ll stand on your coffee table and tell you The Loft are one of the greatest bands you never heard. Check out the Rev Ola comp, Magpie Eyes 1982-1985 if you don’t believe me. They were simply born at the wrong time and died at the wrong time. In terms of grey days and jangly guitars, they were up there with the Smiths. Along with REM they had an understated quirkiness and an aura of mystery about them. And were defiantly anti-synth at the height of New Romantic foppery. In front man, Pete Astor they had a vocalist who had an intimate, refreshingly unaffected delivery. More Lou Reed and Tom Verlaine than the bombastic likes of Bono. Lovelorn cuts like Why Does the Rain and Up the Hill and Down the Slope remain staggering works of heartbreaking genius. Alas, they imploded acrimoniously just as their star was rising.Tragically, without ever cutting a proper album. But what they laid down is to be cherished.

Fortunately, Pete Astor went on to form the Weather Prophets. Another band that never quite got the recognition it deserved. Suffice it to say, Astor has something special. And along with Lloyd Cole and Roddy Frame he is one of those wry, charming songwriters who are as consistently solid as they are consistently underrated.   

“Oh no, oh no, poor Mr. Music when will he let it go,” Pete Astor sings on the second track of Spilt Milk.  Based off what I’ve heard here, one hopes never.  The opener, Really Something, shows just why Astor’s stuff lasts the test of time. All wry charm and that irresistible, no nonsense jangling guitar.  My Right Hand is an ode to the “patron saint of Leave Me Alone”. “When I get home,” he croons, “you know she’ll understand. She’s my best friend, she’s my right hand.” I’ll leave the meaning to your imagination but musically, misanthropy has never sounded so good.

Despite its chipper façade, the ironic, Perfect Life is about anything but. The Getting There is full of all the yearning and mystery of Astor's Loft days. Very Good Lock features a cheeky drum machine that's whimsically at odds with a devastating set of lyrics. “I’ve a got a very good lock for everything I keep inside, it does a very good job for everything I need to hide”, Astor sings in his understated manner. A catchy and powerful track.  Good Enough follows and more than lives up to its title. A potent break up song, where the protagonist ruefully accepts responsibility for his part in a relationship’s demise. The cheeky drum machine reappears on There It Goes. Its chorus, all too honestly answering that time worn question: where did the time go? Sleeping Tiger, livens the proceedings with its cautious optimism, while the gorgeous Oh You ends the album on an irristable note.

This isn’t the kind of album that aims to take the world by storm. Its heart is less on its sleeve and more slightly under cuff. Its songs subtle and nuanced with nothing to prove. For Loft and Weather Prophets fans like myself, its a welcome treat. For the unaquainted, Spilt Milk isn't a bad place to get acquainted with an underrated gem of a songwriter. 

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