Kenny Anderson is never going to make the album people expect him to make and this is no exception. After a low-key album release on Fence (Flock Like Vulcans..) which was only available at gigs or via their website, he’s joined pal James Yorkston by signing to the excellent Domino Records for the follow-up proper to Bombshell. And on the suitably titled Flick the V’s the music speaks for itself – it’s much looser and more experimental, and perhaps the feeling of having nothing to lose has led to his lyrics being much more honest and open. This album sees a snarl added to those dulcet tones, and frequent bad language spells out the fact that Anderson has got a few things to be pissed off about. But its also an album that will make any KC fans very happy indeed, for it features a handful of his very best songs.
Opening track No-One Had it Better is a hypnotic, vocoder-laden fuck-you to anyone accusing him of selling out. It suggests that anything is possible with this album, and not to expect anything conventional. It’s a warning which is actually quite misleading as this is probably the most challenging track here, but it does set the tone nicely for the variation of musical styles to follow.
It’s ironic that first single Coast By Coast, written in collaboration with the Beta Band’s Steve Mason, ostensibly a rather grumpy declaration of his uneasy retreat to Anstruther following thwarted ambitions in the music biz, is the most perfect pop song Kenny Anderson has come up with yet. It’s got a huge glitter band style drumbeat and a chorus that kicks the arse of pretty much everything else ever. It’s so immediate, you’ll be singing along the very first time you hear it. And it isn’t really grumpy at all, as KC expresses a dawning satisfaction with his position in the greater scheme of things. Hey, having an army of devoted fans can’t be a bad thing.
The other central track on the album, Camels Swapped For Wives, is one of his most personal songs by far, broaching the difficult subject of “the effects of mental illness on the whole family” as he puts it himself. The background to this has already been well documented and anyone who’s aware of it will realise just how direct and honest the lyrics are, not to mention heartbreakingly sad. So much so, that it’s a brave decision to actually release it – but thankfully he did as it’s up there with his best, and it ends on an amazingly uplifting coda that has the same shiver-down-the-spine effect as Dry The Rain.
Ok so there’s the odd unnecessary electro wig-out thrown in but that merely shows Anderson is relaxed and enjoying making music again – the backing music is varied and ambitious. Rims is a happy cross country road trip. KC gets the Earlies back on board for the slightly cruel No Way She Exists. Nothing Rings True is anything but “shit” though you can hear Anderson muttering that word to himself right at the beginning (a nice touch) In fact it’s got some of the nicest guitar-work on the album and lots of atmospheric background touches. Curtain Craft sees Kenny wiping a tear from his eye after the break up of a relationship and flicking the V’s at the nosy neighbours, and I defy anyone not to relate to it’s lyrics – and closer Saw Circular Prowess is his nod (stylistically) to Morrissey’s Teachers Are Afraid of The Pupils. Rather than placating the mainstream, Kenny Anderson’s follow up proper to Bombshell (after the low key ‘Flock Like Vulcans..’) is full of ambitious instrumentation and arrangements that allow his songs more room to maneouvre, and I’ve not stopped playing it since I got it.
A shorter version of this review appeared in this month’s Skinny magazine.