It’s not often you can label an album outstanding without even having listened to the whole thing. But as the tears well up during Bats In The Attic on King Creosote & Jon Hopkins collaboration Diamond Mine, I’m already convinced this is something quite special.
The album is described, pretty accurately, as an aural painting and includes songs hand-picked from the scrapbook of Creosote’s career so far and set to the often haunting, ethereal soundscape created by Jon Hopkins.
Documenting the onset of middle age is a thankless task at best, especially in song, but King Creosote tackles it with aplomb on what is the third track on the album. A delightful near-duet with with the silken-voiced Lisa Lindley Jones, Bats In The Attic paints a perfect picture of advancing years and the realisation we only get one go at this life.
Before then, John Taylor Starts His Month Away is a poignant tale of pressure finally getting to a fisherman, who ends up falling asleep drunk and setting fire to his own house. The backdrop to this is a sweet, swaying, rocking melody and a refrain of “I’d much rather be me.” The layers Hopkins builds up towards the end of the track evoke the swell of the seas on which John Taylor presumably earns his crust as well as the build-up of pressure that’s doubtless driven him to drink.
Other highlights on what is only a seven-track album are Bubble, a sombre-sounding pick-me-up on which the partnership with Lindley Jones is rekindled, and Your Young Voice, which celebrates Creosote’s view that, in his darkest hour, being a dad lights the way out.
But highlights aren’t really what the album’s about. It’s intended to be heard in its entirety, so there’s a whole raft of incidental sounds included between tracks. Be it the sound of Creosote’s bike wheels rolling down a hill or the teacups clattering in a Kilrenny church, there’s fine detail here that adds colour and authenticity.
Rent a seaside cottage in mid-winter, put the kettle on, drink Yorkshire tea from a tin mug, stare out at the squally, grey skies and pea-green, miserable sea and put on Diamond Mine. Life-affirming stuff.