The Charlatans Release ‘Modern Nature’
The Charlatans have been unfortunately plagued by a double-sided curse. Unfortunate in the fact that they have lost multiple members to various causes of death, both natural an un-, double-sided in that they inevitably muster on, producing genuinely good albums every few years since the late 80s. Their new release, Modern Nature, is their 12th in 25 years. Having released two previous albums in the wake of band member deaths, this being the third, their first since the death of drummer Jon Brookes – who left the band in 2010 with the brain tumor that eventually took his life. The album comes after five brutal years for the band, though keyboardist Tony Rogers was quoted as saying that they were determined to carry on to honor Brookes’ memory, “Jon was adamant that there was going to be another Charlatans record, and you have to put that into your own thoughts.”
The eleven new tracks, running about 47 minutes, were produced by The Charlatans and Jim Spencer and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead), and features a number of contributors, including Pete Salisbury of The Verve, Stephen Morris of New Order, Gabriel Gurnsey of Factory Floor, Kate Bush’s backing singers Melanie Marshall and Sandra Marvin, Sean O’ Hagan on strings and Dexys’ Big Jim Paterson on brass. Despite being a conglomeration of sound, it remains grounded in the basic keyboard-guitar sound that has become the Charlatans’ pedigree over the past quarter century.
Well known for soul-tinted R&B Britpop, Modern Nature is tinged with the melancholic keyboards and shiny guitar splurges like most Charlatan albums, but possesses a pacing that mellows and satisfies the thirsty listener lacking any lately potable Britpop. This is not a gateway album for anyone new to 90s Britpop, but remains one of their most tautly wound, with well written songs and the intricate instrument (rhythm section) backing that has defined them since their inception. Beginning strong yet imbued with nostalgic tones and melodies in “Talking in Tones” and “Come Home Baby”, there is an obvious gist here, one of fatality and vitality. Yet despite all that there is a notable lack of fodder here, specifically what you would expect to find from an outfit 25 years gone in the UK scene. Finishing off both musically and lyrically strongly with “Lean In”, “Trouble Understanding”, and “Lot to Say”, The Charlatans look to tour with the same grueling schedule as normal, one of the few “old” bands to populate set lists with actually decent new songs and the classics you spent the $50 for. A year from start to release, the band went into their studio Big Mushroom in January 2014 and lead vocalist Tim Burgess remembers, “We were aching for the summer when we wrote it. It was freezing and we were trying to write songs that made us happy.” Like all of us, the band should be happy it’s still around, doing what they love, and getting to see thew world while they do it.
The Charlatans play in Japan and Taiwan in March:
03/19 – O – East, Tokyo
03/22 – Neo Studio, Taipei
03/25 – Club Quattro, Osaka