There is a sense of urgency, of excitement; a feeling which was lacking from most of...
Chris Long 2004-04-06
Every Charlatans release comes with tales of complications and general misdemeanour as the band attempt to prove that they really are the North West's most resiliant performers, and Up At The Lake is no different.
Having had to weather rumours that Tim Burgess' solo outing would end the Charlatans, the band decamped to Cornwall to record what is their eighth studio album, only to leave the master tape in a Bodmin pub following a few too many pints. Thankfully, Up At The Lake has now come to fruition and lives up to the quality of its predecessors.
There's a fresh air to the record, as if Tim's solo excursion has allowed the whole band, and not just him, to put down their instruments and take stock. While Burgess hasn't brought back any of the country twang that wandered through his solo album, I Believe, he has brought a good deal of its breeziness.
The title track opens the album and sets up the record perfectly. There are nods to their own history and to others (the opening line reworks the start of the Happy Mondays' "Loose Fit"). There is a sense of urgency, of excitement; a feeling which was lacking from most of their previous offering, Wonderland.
This feeling continues through most of the other 11 songs, with "Feel The Pressure", previewed at last year's triumphant homecoming at Move festival, pushing out acres of energy. "Loving You Is Easy" and "Cry Yourself To Sleep" pull off a pair of piano ballads that Starsailor probably wish they could dream of writing. "Apples and Oranges" pops out the kind of whirling rock that has been the cornerstone of their career and "Dead Love" closes in short, sweet, acoustic-drenched style.
Unfortunately, alongside all the plus points, Up At The Lake suffers from the same problems that seams through all of their albums. They still can't manage to crack a truly killer chorus (despite Tim showing he has them in him on I Believe). I'm still left with the odd feeling that they could have done slightly better.
Such things don't seem to trouble the Charlatans too much though. They've been through a lot to get to this point and are still creating fine music long after the bands they began their long journey with have crumbled and turned into nostalgia. Up At The Lake is another solid album from a band that ooze consistency.
Respect is most definitely due.