In all likelihood, you’ve probably heard very little about Kenny Anderson up until this point in time; I was definitely in the same boat. However, the release of Thrawn, the first King Creosote album to make its way overseas should hopefully change that, at least if you’re listening closely to the album. It’s a Scottish influenced folk affair from a man who doesn’t seem to be seeking out the fame and fortune of other bands, instead he’s quietly releasing his own music, whether we pay attention or not.
Once you play the opening track “Bootprints,” you might find yourself thinking of cleverly crafted pop music a la Sondre Lerche. Anderson’s voice is so perfect, in both pitch and tone. The music has a hint of cocktail lounge, giving a little hint at some sort of modern tropicalia. But, Thrawn isn’t a record that’s going to stay in one place for too long.
“You’ve No Clue Do You” recalls Van Occupanther-era Midlake, or one could throw Fleetwood Mac into that too. However, it’s Anderson’s slight change in pitch during the chorus, going just a tad bit higher, that really makes such a track truly remarkable. Then it moves off into “King Bubble’s in Sand,” which has more of an oddball folk appeal, though not in an overly quirky sense. It’s a short track, and it uses some non-traditional percussion to go along with slight piano dancing in the background, then it’s over in less than two minutes. But, that’s okay, as King Creosote offers up one of the album’s greatest tracks, “Missionary.” You’ll probably notice some similarities in the vocal performance here, and the strumming for some reason reminds me of innocent campfire scenes surrounded by fans. There’s nothing contrived or dishonest here…just straight-ahead pop glory.
One of the unique things about Thrawn is that despite various nod to other musicians, whether intentional or not, the entire record sounds perfectly fresh. You get a song like “Little Heart,” which sounds like a great deal of Scottish janglers, yet it’s one of those songs that rises out of such an homage, establishing itself on its own merits. There’s some backing vocals to provide more-depth, and the pacing just fits perfectly with the overall mood of the song. I mean, listening to this song, “what’s with the frown?”
For the little I know about King Creosote, despite my research and press bios, I wasn’t entirely prepared for such heartfelt songs like “My Favourite Girl.” It’s a pretty simple ballad, similar to many marking the twists and turns of this album, but there’s something emotionally moving about the track. It’s an unexplainable thing; it’s not the piano atop the gentle strumming, or the softness of Anderson’s vocals; its just got that “it” factor that we all yearn for in our everyday listening experience. You’ll find many tracks like this throughout the whole of Thrawn, probably different than the ones that stood out to my ears. Such is the force of this record, appearing out of nowhere to win over countless listeners, on the recommendation of one man alone. Hopefully this great work will not go unnoticed any longer; go check out the King.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/04-Missionary.mp3]
Download: King Creosote – Missionary [MP3]