The question has to be asked – to whom is Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, ‘flicking the Vs’? It’s mighty tempting to think Warner Music is the object of his disdain, as he heads back home to Domino, joining fellow Fifer James Yorkston. Several lyrical clues do nothing to discount this. Yet it might be a spurned love – for when he goes out driving in Rims, the pledge is, “you’ll not mention him, I’ll not mention her, we’ll not mention any of this back home”.
Certainly Anderson sounds like a free spirit without the constraints of a major label to hold him back – yet at the same time it’s worth pointing out the quality of his music hardly dipped while he was on Warner’s 679 imprint. With that in mind it’s interesting to compare the relatively commercialised sound of Bombshell, his previous album, with the more experimental tones adopted here. He certainly sounds at home.
For Flick The Vs is sonically inventive, whether it’s the saxophone doing a passable imitation of a swan on No Way She Exists, the baleful clarinet in accompanying Camel Swapping For Wives or the uncommonly complicated passagework assigned to a lightly picked guitar on Fell An Ox. That’s even before mentioning the sharply descriptive Rims, whose quick shuffle beat evokes the scenery rushing past on a road trip more vividly than you could possibly imagine. It’s an astonishing and thrilling song.
It almost goes without saying that lyrically Anderson is continually interesting, as he addresses seemingly random topics such as girls, homophobia, cross dressing and receiving over-generous album reviews. Camels Swapped For Wives is the stand-out in this respect, its strong emphasis on the line “I couldn’t give a fuck about that” leaping out of the stereo.
His own sound is, perhaps inevitably, less commercial. The drums are unexpectedly high in the mix in places, disturbing the otherwise breezy Coast On By or providing an insistent backing for No One Had It Better, where Anderson says goodbye to a relationship. It’s a brave move, opening with a sombre number as he did with on Bombshell.
Having come ‘home’, then, King Creosote sounds as marvellous as ever, veering between bitter and sweet, often within the same song, but crucially returning the edge to his music. Bombshell may have been a fine work in the songwriting craft, but Flick The Vs does exactly that – and gets those fingers dirty in the process.