The Charlatans return to their roots

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 May, 2006, 12:00am

British band The Charlatans still soldier on long past their heyday. But their ninth studio album Simpatico proves they've still got what it takes to rock.

The band were the former vanguard of Madchester, an alternative music scene that developed in Manchester in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

In this album, the quintet returns to their classic sound - heavy and raw - but are still having a party.

The splendid Blackened Blue Eyes opens the album with a bang. The track is reminiscent of the band's Tellin' Stories era. It features relentless guitar riffs slicing across the piano, creating an explosive, multi-layered wall of sound.

Another highlight is Muddy Ground. Frontman Tim Burgess' detached vocals make a nice contrast to the groovy piano.

The album shifts the pace down a gear in closing track Sunset & Vine, an instrumental track that ends the album on a peaceful note.

While many bands of the Madchester period, such as the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays, have had their day, The Charlatans has survived. Simpatico may not be the group's best album, but it's a fine piece of work that's worth the space on your iPod.