Without a doubt, I was enamored with Pete Ator’s last solo record. Naturally there were high hopes for an artist whose roots lie deep in the Creation Records back catalog, marking time with both The Loft and The Weather Prophets, but his solo work finds grace in letting jangle pop age without feeling like it slips into stuffy adulthood. Astor’s an ace songwriter, but some of the secret to the youthful glint in the eye of his productions on Spilt Milk lie with the involvement of perennial RSTB favorite James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls). Hoare’s production and arrangement fingerprints are all over both the previous album and One For The Ghost. Again Astor finds a winsome ease with an album that leans into ennui (though a bit less so than his last) and blends bittersweet odes with driving jangles and memorable hooks.
If the last record had Hoare as secret weapon, this one pulls a few more into Astor’s corner, adding Franic Rozycki and Jonny Helm from UK gems The Wave Pictures and Pam Berry of indie legends Black Tambourine. The resulting album works its way through wry wit and genuine moments of transcendence. Astor’s quietly building a latter day catalog of pop treasures that start with the germ of jangle-pop but explode the genre into threads of psych, blues and folk that all seem like natural extensions of Astor’s soft-padded approach.
Despite a pretty solid critical reception to the last record, I always feel like there should have been more fanfare about such a venerable artist returning to bridge the divide with some great upstarts. Two records in such short succession proves it’s no fluke or creative flash. Anyone who had Spilt Milk in their headphones throughout 2016 would do well to return for another dose.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.