Few bands are as open as The Charlatans about letting their listening habits influence their songwriting. There were the Dylan and Stones pastiches that marked their late-Nineties albums, for instance, and the Curtis Mayfield underpinning of Wonderland. Recently, they've listened to a lot of Studio One recordings, so roughly half of Simpatico's 11 tracks feature reggae rhythms or dub effects - there's even a melodica counterpoint on "When the Lights Go Out in London", a song about the 7/7 bombings that adds little of worth to the events. Much the same applies to "Dead Man's Eye", an Iraq War narrative done in the ersatz-reggae style of Greyhound's "Black and White"; elsewhere, the superficial attractions of New York's nighthawk culture receive equally superficial coverage in "NYC" and "For Your Entertainment". Tony Rogers is the most valuable player, his keyboards anchoring both the dub instrumental "Sunset and Vine" and the 2-Tone ska-pop of "City of the Dead". Elsewhere, the Stones influence endures on "Blackened Blue Eyes", largely thanks to Rogers' piano recalling "We Love You". Overall, then, not as good as Up at the Lake, but not entirely bereft of inspiration.
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