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Albums Reviews

The Charlatans

You Cross My Path
Cooking Vinylo
(Three stars)

Samar Grewal Aug 09, 2008

The Charlatans, like Mötley Crüe, are one of those well-oiled machines (album, tour, album”¦) that’ve been delivering the goods in return for unwavering mid-level popularity since 1492 BC. They refuse to go away, and they refuse to produce material that’s irretrievably disappointing. In that context, You Cross My Path, is an honourable addition to the half-score discs they’ve put out since getting together.

While the band may’ve left their Madchester days behind (picking up influences as diverse as soul, country reggae and dub along the way), the generous smattering of faintly oriental keyboard hooks anchoring rhythmically driven head-bobbers continue to please retroactively on YCMP. The album begins with the boys from Norwich channelling The Killers in the rollicking organ riffs on ‘Oh! Vanity’, segues effortlessly into the acoustic guitar- and pads-driven ‘Bad Days’ (with a bridge heavy on, oddly, a European nu jazz disco mix feel) and rounds-off the first 11 minutes with the immediately catchy chorus hook of ‘Mis-takes’. The songwriting chops take a collective break on ‘The Misbegotten’ and its token techno samples, but come back strong for the mid-tempo organ-guitar masterstroke ‘A Day For Letting Go’. With a top half like that, the rest of the album feels a bit flatter by comparison, that is until we get to the spacey ‘My Name Is Despair’, a modal sonic exploration and the pick of the draw by miles. With the hum and drone of guitars, freely interweaving organ, low piano notes, even ululation, all tied together by nifty hi-hat and cymbal work, ‘Despair is to the Charlatans what ‘Trainspotting’ (from
their ’97 album Vanishing Point) was to Primal Scream. While YCMP won’t match any of the seven albums that broke the UK top-ten for the group, it is proof positive that Burgess and Co will probably never lose the knack for nailing those tunes.

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