An astute new album from the indie pop doyen...
'One For The Ghost'

Pete Astor is an actual bona fide professor of pop. Once the leader of Creation Records types The Loft and The Weather Prophets, he has spent spells teaching in further education, focussing on pop culture and it’s many fascinating splinters.

There’s always been an enormous depth of knowledge to Pete Astor’s work, something that has only become more pronounced with time. 2015’s Fortuna! Pop release ‘Spilt Milk’ opened a fresh chapter in his work, teaming the esteemed indie pop songwriter with James Hoare of the recently split London minimalist pop combo Ultimate Painting.

‘One For The Ghost’ continues this partnership, and it sluices Astor’s wiry indie craftsmanship – part Lou Reed, part Edwyn Collins – with a new generation of London musicians. For the most part , too, it’s an absolute joy, an urbane, witty, extremely catchy selection of three minute ditties, superbly well-written and expertly arranged.

‘Walker’ is a neat slice of grey-flecked jangle, while ‘Water Tower’ shambles along in a jaunty but deeply English rockabilly fashion. ‘Golden Boy’ has that Sun Records echo-slap guitar, while ‘Only Child’ is a neat two-chord Velvets strummer.

Adapt at untangling its influences, ‘One For The Ghost’ is the welcome revitalisation of an often forgotten English pop voice. ‘You Better Dream’ is wonderfully earnest yet hopelessly poetic, while ‘Tango Uniform’ seems to relish in Dylan-esque word-play re-tooled for an overcast British landscape.

The relentlessly chirpy title track is one of the album’s real high points, pitting that pointed, Jonathan Richman-esque rhythm guitar against a litany of famous final words, from Oscar Wilde to Hemingway and beyond. “Raise the glass, and drink a toast,” Pete Astor sings gleefully, as it he’s not quite ready to give up the fight just yet. “It’s the final curtain, it’s the final straw,” he adds, drawing to a close another lesson in minimalist pop, one that seems to ring truer than ever.

8/10

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