Album: The Charlatans, You Cross My Path (XFM)
Friday 07 March 2008
Radiohead's internet initiative is starting to be followed by other acts, with varying degrees of success.
I had hoped to be able to review Nine Inch Nails' internet-only Ghosts I-IV album, a project available in several permutations, including audiophile vinyl and two-hour CD versions; but NIN's server proved incapable of successfully furnishing even the basic nine-track free sampler.
There were no such problems with The Charlatans' new album, however. In a matter of minutes, it had arrived on my desktop, unzipped itself and was ready and waiting in a folder neatly labelled with band name and title: now that's service – and they didn't even ask for a tip. And, like Radiohead's In Rainbows, despite being free, the album is a triumphant reaffirmation of the band's essential qualities.
Those qualities have often been difficult to pin down, thanks to The Charlatans' penchant for changing direction from album to album. In the past, they've offered impressive pastiches of Dylan, the Stones, The Byrds, and Curtis Mayfield, while their last album, 2006's Simpatico, found the band beguiled by Studio One's rock-steady heritage. At a guess, the past year or two has been spent listening to Krautrock and the early Eighties Euro-influenced new-wave grooves of the young Simple Minds and New Order.
Watch the video for The Charlatans forthcoming single 'You Cross My Path'.
The opener "Oh! Vanity" chugs along like Neu! doing a cover of Booker T's "Time Is Tight", the propulsive motorik groove wreathed in swirling con-trails of psych-rock synthesiser, before being replaced by the skittish disco hi-hats, striding bass and electropop synth motif of "Bad Days", a dig at a former friend.
It's but one of a string of songs rooted in disaffection and break-up, delivered by Tim Burgess with the ingenuous reproach of Bernard Sumner. "I don't care that you dissed me/ And the bust-up, it felt good," he pouts in "Mis-takes", while the hustling rhythms of "Missing Beats (of a Generation)" cover what seems to be a ménage à trois.
The split reaches crisis proportions on the self-explanatory "My Name Is Despair" and the organ-driven mid-tempo rocker "A Day For Letting Go" ("This is the sound of a drown and a dream spilling down"), though whatever betrayal or disappointment Burgess has suffered, it clearly hasn't dimmed either his spirit or the band's knack for engaging melodies. Indeed, so replete with both is You Cross My Path that it may turn out to be The Charlatans' best album. But how will they make money from it?
Download this: 'Oh! Vanity', 'This Is The End', 'You Cross My Path', 'Bad Days', 'A Day For Letting Go'
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Free porn websites could be shut down within months, says David Cameron
- 2 Stuart Baggs dies: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 3 Whoopi Goldberg tells Cara Delevingne to suck it up: 'She's not famous. I'M famous'
- 4 1000 people played Foo Fighters simultaneously to try and get them to play their city
- 5 Every club should be like Labour – you can’t join as a new member unless you’re already a member
Why Harry Potter's aged 35, not 26
Black Mass full trailer: Watch an unrecognisable Johnny Depp play notorious US gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger
Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May heading to Amazon Prime for new car show
Benedict Cumberbatch has 1,480 lines in Hamlet - so what's the secret to actors' memory skills?
Drake responds to Meek Mill's 'diss' track 'Wanna Know' by laughing at the rapper on Instagram
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'