We’ve never had an album of The Charlatans to review. We suspect they’ve carved out a nice (and niche) market for themselves with a loyal fanbase but this is — by virtue of us getting a copy — their best album for some time and they’re hoping for a wider impact.
On the plus side, it’s all good: they’ve been doing it for nearly 30 years and the songs are well written, Tim Burgess’s voice matching the happy-sad sound of the music. It’s all mostly low-key, only a few songs, including the title track, making a move towards being stirring (and it’s a great track).
On the downside, “it’s all good” could be read as professionally constant; nothing leaps out and makes you love the album. It’s competent rather than inspired, and it tails off a little at the end.
It’s got a decent groove in places — guest drummers include New Order’s Stephen Morris — and Johnny Marr chips in, too (we’re guessing on the title track for a start).
All that said, some tracks are good, in an “I’m a grown up but I still like a tune” kind of way, such as the title track, Plastic Machinery or Not Forgotten, which has a New Order sound in places.
Are there better albums about? Yes. Is it worth spending a tenner on this rather than blowing it on a couple of artisan real ales? Yes. It’s a slow burner but it grows with repeated plays.