Album: The Charlatans

Up at the Lake, Island
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The Independent Culture

With The Charlatans' previous release, Wonderland, heavily influenced by Curtis Mayfield, the relatively simple and direct Up at the Lake is a surprise. Though there are occasional echoes of other bands - from the expected (The Byrds on "Loving You Is Easy") to the unfathomably unhip (ELO on "Bona Fide Treasure"), this is the most focused, coherent and unmediated that the band have sounded in years. Tony Rogers's keyboards are a major factor in this latest development of the band's musical personality, his rolling organ grooves and layered textures providing a firm base for Mark Collins's astringent guitar parts and Burgess's multi-tracked vocal harmonies. The result, on the title track, is a frisky march in the manner of Franz Ferdinand, while the oblique pick-up song "High up Your Tree" recalls Ween in the blissful psychedelic-pop mode of their White Pepper. Most of the songs appear to chart Burgess's turbulent emotional life, as he crawls from the ruins of one relationship and

With The Charlatans' previous release, Wonderland, heavily influenced by Curtis Mayfield, the relatively simple and direct Up at the Lake is a surprise. Though there are occasional echoes of other bands - from the expected (The Byrds on "Loving You Is Easy") to the unfathomably unhip (ELO on "Bona Fide Treasure"), this is the most focused, coherent and unmediated that the band have sounded in years. Tony Rogers's keyboards are a major factor in this latest development of the band's musical personality, his rolling organ grooves and layered textures providing a firm base for Mark Collins's astringent guitar parts and Burgess's multi-tracked vocal harmonies. The result, on the title track, is a frisky march in the manner of Franz Ferdinand, while the oblique pick-up song "High up Your Tree" recalls Ween in the blissful psychedelic-pop mode of their White Pepper. Most of the songs appear to chart Burgess's turbulent emotional life, as he crawls from the ruins of one relationship and makes doomed attempts to establish another, his entreaties usually sabotaged by his stubborn individuality - and ultimately damning all romantic overtures in the closing "Dead Love", where he rebuffs a girl with the dismissive: "How can you say love surrounds me, when you know it drowns me?"

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