A bit nutty, like his name
In today’s music world, idiosyncrasies are considered a plus. Anything that makes an artist different or atypical is what sets them apart and gives them an edge over their competition. That doesn’t mean that being weird gets you places on its own, though, the music still has to be good.
Luckily for up and coming singer-songwriter Charlie McKeon, aka The Pistachio Kid, he manages to possess both necessities. He hails from Liverpool, England- the city that also produced the Beatles- and while it’s premature to compare him to anyone on that level, he has recently produced a strong debut, titled Sweet Remedies.
McKeon’s songs can most accurately be described as musings- only two of the album’s eight tracks top three minutes in length, and the instrumentation is sparse. Often, each song only consists of one or two instruments, whether acoustic guitar (“Everything and Anything”), piano (“Vistabella Road”), electronic elements (“Soreberry Tree”) or in the case of opener “Sweet Sweet Remedies,” no added instruments at all. This ‘less is more’ arrangement allows McKeon’s voice to remain front and center in the mix and gives the listener an ample opportunity to listen to the lyrics.
Now, about those aforementioned lyrics: this piece mentioned earlier McKeon was a bit of an oddball, and those words prove it. The best example is “Bicycle Thieves,” a literal narrative about thieves stealing the protagonist’s bicycle, but all the other tracks exhibit this trait as well.
The one problem with writing an album in such a stream-of-consciousness manner- something McKeon confirms to be the case- is that many times ideas can feel rushed or incomplete. Sadly, Sweet Remedies falls into this trap. As a whole, McKeon’s ideas are good, but they could have done with a little more development because a lot of the album’s shorter tracks sound like he stopped working on them midway through.
Criticisms aside, however, Pistachio Kid has produced a good first release, something that definitely offers a solid foundation on which to build. With a little more fine-tuning it could have been even better, but the fact that McKeon can create something memorable while barely scratching the surface on his creative possibilities is a great sign for his career going forward.