I first saw King Creosote at a small arts centre in Sale, back in 2005, having turned up to watch Jose Gonzales who was in support. Despite being entirely unfamiliar with his material, he put on a great show, completely engaging the small audience with his stage patter, and his gorgeous Scottish voice, tinged with sorrow and regret. (I also seem to remember him kneeling on stage with his knees in his shoes for the song Bootprints, as if he were a tiny man, which is not something every lead singer does).By this point he had already put out 20 albums on his own Fence label, often in very limited quantities, so delving too deeply into his back catalogue was always going to be tricky, but I’ve followed his career pretty closely since.
Every album King Creosote has released has had wonderful songs on it, but usually mixed in with a handful which don’t truly grab me. So whilst I love albums like KC Rules OK and Diamond Mine (his collaboration with Jon Hopkins), I wouldn’t have considered any of his albums all-time favourites. Astronaut meets Appleman may just have changed that. Pretty much every song on this album is essential from the brooding opener ‘You Just Want’ to the nine minute plus bonus track ‘The Long Fade’ which never outstays its’ welcome. It contains some of his catchiest, most immediate songs such as ‘Wake Up To This’ and ‘Love Life’, and others such as ‘Betelguese’ which don’t leap out at you in the same way, but ultimately reveal themselves to be just as beautiful. Even ‘Peter Rabbit Tea’ a child-sampling interlude (presumably his own child, but I don’t actually know) is charming, although I don’t know if I would have felt the same way before becoming a father myself.
He remains a fantastic lyricist, with a subtle, wry humour (I’m not going to quote lines here, as lyrics always come off worse on the page than in the song, but just have a listen), and the voice is as wonderful ever, perhaps my favourite of any current singer. The most impressive thing though is producing perhaps his finest work so many albums into his musical life. I used to think that almost all musicians produced their finest work early on, but this year King Creosote (and Nick Cave for that matter) have proved me very wrong.