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The Charlatans - You Cross My Path

The Charlatans, You Cross My Path

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THERE are times when listening to The Charlatans’ tenth studio album You Cross My Path that you could be forgiven for thinking you’d put the wrong CD in the player. The shades of New Order are unmistakable.

Recent single, The Misbegotten, in particular, begins like a barely concealed ode to Blue Monday mixed with the type of sound New Order were creating around World In Motion and Regret. But while that comes as a shock initially, it eventually works to The Charlatans favour.

Having suffered some of the worst reviews of their career in the wake of 2006’s woeful Simpatico, they have re-emerged with a new lease of live and sound truly re-invigorated. Lead singer, Tim Burgess, ditches the falsetto that so had divided fans in favour of a more full-on approach, while the keyboard element that’s such a trademark has been refined in favour of a more dance-driven vibe.

Hence, the electronics often provide a swirling backdrop to proceedings, while the guitars – though less pronounced than during the How High/North Country Boy glory era – are in fine kettle.

Opening with the former single, Oh! Vanity, with its scuzzy bass and brooding intensity, the album endears itself from the start. Burgess sounds more assured and confident than he’s been for a long time, while the hammonds and stomping back-beat work well in tandem with that driving bass. It’s a fresh sounding record and just what The Charlatans needed.

Fortunately, the remainder of the album doesn’t disappoint. Bad Days is a punchy ode to those 24-hour periods where nothing seems to go right that’s rife with bitter lyrics and another New Order-ish piece of electronica, while Mis-takes is dripping in radio-friendly melodies and some fine guitar riffs. Burgess, for his part, is resolutely defiant throughout, spurting lyrics such as “I don’t like you, and I know that you don’t like me”.

Admittedly, the album becomes a bit average during its middle section, with both the title track and A Day For Letting Go not really making much of an impression. But there’s a fine sense of immediacy surrounding the swirling hammonds and foot-stomping chorus of Missing Beats (Of A Generation), which is the one real throwback to the band’s own heyday and tracks like Weirdo.

My Name Is Despair, meanwhile, finds Burgess singing of his own cross to bear and wallowing in melancholy sentiment. The track is quite imposing, though, featuring a vaguely echoed chorus, some haunting, almost ethereal surrounding organs, and a stripped down back beat that works to its advantage. It’ll probably take a few listens to properly get used to, but it’s one of the LP’s boldest efforts.

The euphoric headrush returns, though, for the final two tracks, Bird and This Is The End – the former employing the same sort of fresh, invigorating guitar riffs that made New Order’s Regret such a timeless classic, as well as a fine set of vocals, and the latter slow-building its way to an impossibly pleasing finale.

And when Burgess defiantly sings “this is the end… I will never be put down”, let’s hope it’s not a final farewell, but rather a statement of intent that The Charlatans will be around for a good deal longer yet. They still clearly have plenty to offer.

Download picks: Oh! Vanity, Mis-takes, The Misbegotten, My Name Is Despair, Bird, This Is The End

Track listing:

  1. Oh Vanity
  2. Bad Days
  3. Mistakes
  4. Misbegotten
  5. Day For Letting Go
  6. You Cross My Path
  7. Missing Beats (Of A Generation)
  8. My Name Is Despair
  9. Bird/Reprise
  10. This Is The End