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The Charlatans - Up At The Lake


Review: Jack Foley

AFTER the relative disappointment of first single (and title track!), Up At The Lake, it comes as some relief to be able to report that The Charlatans' eighth album is another success for Tim Burgess and co - but only just!

Gone is the falsetto style of last album, Wonderland, and many of the lush, flashy production values of some other efforts, replaced, instead, by a return to the classic songwriting style of Tellin' Stories, without so many of the out-and-out anthems.

If anything, the beginning of the album is far weaker than the end of it, with tracks such as the Chemical Brothers' produced, Feel The Pressure, and debut track, Up At The Lake, raising fears that this would be a misfire.

Indeed, there are very few fast tracks on the album that can rival the quality of earlier efforts, such as Weirdo, How High, or North Country Boy, with only Watch You In Disbelief coming close.

But the real strength of Up At The Lake lies in its ballads, which, quite possibly, demonstrate a growing maturity, as well as an eye on the success of other, more ballad-based British bands, such as Coldplay or Keane (is it any mistake that Coldplay's Ken Nelson crops up on mixing duties?).

The weeping guitars of High Up Your Tree, for example, which also comes laced with tingling pianos, is an absolute gem of a track, while the acoustic-psychedelia of Try Again Today is like a ray of musical sunshine, no doubt influenced by Burgess' current love affair with California.

By the time the electric guitars and hammond organ kicks in, you'll be foot-tapping your way around the bedroom, singing 'something's gotta change'.

There is even a breezy, Beach Boys-style throwback in Loving You Is Easy, courtesy of some stirring vocals from keyboardist, Tony Rogers, which is guaranteed to keep the fans on their toes.

And, in Bonafide Treasure, a reminder of Burgess' solo work, on I Believe, with its country and western and folk influences.

Burgess candidly admits that Up At The Lake marks a new beginning for the band, particularly as many people had thought another album from them wouldn't be possible.

And just as they did with Wonderland, the band has moved forward in yet another direction, stripping things down to deliver their rawest tracks in ages.

The result, while likely to take a few listens, is actually a really good record and another triumph for The Charlatans, which really deserves a wider listener base than it will probably receive.

With other highlights including the beautiful final track, Dead Love, and the moody Apples and Oranges, this is really another long-player which ought not to be missed.

 

Track listing:
1. Up At The Lake
2. Feel The Pressure
3. Watch You In Disbelief
4. Cry Yourself To Sleep
5. Bonafide Treasure
6. High Up Your Tree
7. Blue For You
8. I'll Sing A Hymn
9. Loving You Is Easy
10. Try Again Today
11. Apples and Oranges
12. Dead Love

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