The Charlatans

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 May, 2006, 12:00am

The Charlatans



There are bands who defy the odds to stay together and others who defy taste and good sense to stay together. The Charlatans have a wobbly foot in both camps.

They were whisked into the public consciousness on the scraggy tail-end of the Madchester baggy scene, found a happy home in the thankfully short-lived shoe-gazing scene and somehow managed to navigate their way through Brit-pop and come out the other side, remarkably, with their fan-base intact.

They've suffered jail, death and critical hammering to release this, their 10th and possibly worst album, full of dubby nonsense and white reggae dirges that never take off.

Over the 11-song set, there are about three tracks you'll want to return to for another listen - the opener Blackened Blue Eyes being about the best.

There's the odd flourish of the piano-driven Exile on Main Street-era boogie-woogie that made 1999's Us and Us Only a near masterpiece, but regrettably, most of the remainder is the sort of limp, ersatz reggae that even the Clash couldn't have made sound interesting.

And in NYC (There's No Need to Stop) they have recorded a strong contender for their worst-ever song - all 'whoo-hoo-hoos' and star-struck lyrics about a city, which in song sounds more like a bad dream than a citadel to man's progress.

If we can take any consolation from this album it's the fact that there's none of the ear-splitting falsetto in which lead singer Tim Burgess insisted on recording in his solo work and the band's previous album.