It’s fair to say that 2016 has not got off to the best of starts when it comes to musicians who have been around a while. How heartening then, that one old favourite of more than thirty years, has released a charming album, a perfect antidote to the gloom that January often brings. Spilt Milk is the album, Pete Astor the performer and what a joy it is to hear his laconic vocals once again.
Like most of you fine people, we first became aware of talents through his work with The Loft and their two brilliant singles on Creation Records. This was back in 1984-85; glorious slices of guitar pop which set bedroom record players alight for a while. Then suddenly and dramatically The Loft were gone but fear not Pete Astor was back with The Weather Prophets. Naively we thought that it was only a mater of time before Peter would be on Top of the Pops, with his brilliant unruly quiff, spotty shirts, leather trousers and slyly catchy tunes. Somehow though it didn’t happen.
The decades came and went and Pete went on producing music in a variety of guises and styles whilst simultaneously edging into the world of musical academia. Any fears that the academic world would lead to a slicker, blander Astor are beautifully cast aside on this new album. Musically the songs are simply structured, think the gentle side of the Velvets or The Lucksmiths, with a dash of country twang from time to time and you will be on the right track.
Astor is in fine form lyrically. A lovely dig at self-important musicians on the single “Mr Music”, the enigmatic “The Getting There”, the sadness around differing expectations on “Good Enough” and many more. All of these delivered with his deliciously understated vocals, weary and worldly wise, with no need to overplay the emotion inherent in the songs.
Ten songs, just under forty minutes, it’s great to have Pete Astor and individual take on pop music back.