Ahead of today’s album release, you’ve probably heart enough that it’s their first since the tragic death of Jon Brookes in 2013. It is worth bearing in mind however, they’ve bounced back from yet another set back, and produced another superb record.
The first 3 tracks of “Modern Nature” have already been released, Talking In Tones, So Oh, and most recently, the magnificent Come Home Baby, so the rest of the album was for many about keeping up a standard set so high by their 1990s rise to stardom. Track 4, Keeping Up features Sean O’Hagan on strings and was supposedly the result of long, hard discussion as to whether an album could materialise. Burgess has likened In The Tall Grass to The Doors, at first an aspirational likeness but one that I personally realise, it’s romantic, mysterious and brilliant. Track 8 is Let The Good Be Times Never Ending and both footballer Gary Neville and famous novelist Ian Rankin described it as the “sleeper hit of the album” when sent it during production. Gary Neville as a “musical guinea pig” who’d have thought? But aside from Come Home Baby, it’s my pick of the album.
Whether intended or not, the album is full of reminiscence, with some songs based around pieces Brookes left behind, it pays homage to him and the band recruited Stephen Morris, from New Order, and Pete Salisbury, from The Verve, to play percussion on the album using Jon’s drums. Tony Rodgers told Uncut last year that Jon was “adamant there was going to be a new Charlatans record”, but it hasn’t been forced, but rather perfected.
It’s had to pull away from listening to the latter tracks of the record such as Lean In and not refer back to the songs that made them famous around 20 years ago now, but for many these are the songs that still rank at the top after any gig, and now they have new company in 2015. Trouble Understanding features that iconic keyboard “Some Friendly” keyboard sound. There’s no Impossible, and there’ll never be another North Country Boy, but it isn’t half close.